When I came to Israel as a teenager, I was welcomed with open arms. I was given a tour of the country, met lots of like-minded people and was sent out to explore a brand new, beautiful culture.
A few years later, I came back to live in Israel for 10 months, to volunteer here, and I was again in a good situation: my flight was paid for by the government, I received a stipend and I was given lots of free time to go out and enjoy myself in this magical land.
Upon making aliyah, I signed a few forms, had a Rabbi certify that I am Jewish and bam – citizenship. I got another free flight, an “absorption basket” (money), discounts on health insurance and much more. I received endless feedback letting me know that presence was not only requested, but it was deemed investment worthy. This country was more than happy to take me in and offer me the best that it has to offer. All of this, because I am Jewish.
Unfortunately, not all citizens (Jewish or not) experience this same amazing process. The Ethiopian population in Israel is faced with adversity, ignorance and hate for no logical reason. Last night, this group of people protested and fought for their right to equality. It was so sad for me, as a struggle-free citizen (socially, at least) to realize that my experience is unique. It is not safe to assume that each person is appreciated for what they have to offer – we are still living in a world of discrimination and petty judgements.
I hope that yesterday was a wake up call for this country to value each and every one of its citizens, whether they be black, white, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, disabled, tall, short, American, Arab, British, or even Israeli-born.