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After Decades Of Discrimination, Israel’s Ethiopian Jews Say Enough Is Enough

Israel is home to roughly 100,000 Falashas, black Jews of Ethiopian descent. They have no government representation and say they’re treated like second-class citizens. Led by a hitherto unknown man named Molat Araro, the Falashas are finally starting to s

Serge Dumon

JERUSALEM -- "Don't look at me like a savage," declares Molat Araro. Until relatively recently, the 26-year-old was almost completely unknown within his Israel-based community of Falashas, black Ethiopian Jews. And he was even more anonymous in the rest of the Hebrew state where these Africans, who are taken for descendants of the mythical Queen of Sheba, are usually very discreet.

But everything changed when this physical education student set off on a march against racism, wearing an Israeli flag and with half his face painted blue. This pilgrimage took him from Kiryat Malahi, a small town in the south of Israel where 20% of the inhabitants are Falashas, to the doors of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem.

Approximately 5,000 other Falashas were waiting for him there to denounce the discrimination they face in Israel. "When our parents emigrated en masse at the start of the 1980s, they thought they were escaping to paradise. But all they have found is contempt," says Adissu Mohal, a 40-year-old supermarket employee. "Not a day goes by without someone treating me like a cockroach because of the color of my skin."

"They should be grateful"

The Falashas discontent spilled over three weeks ago when the white inhabitants of Kiryat Malahi agreed in writing not to rent or sell any goods to the blacks. The town hall supported the agreement. "We don't want these shits in our buildings," town residents told television reporters. In response, the Falashas, who hadn't protested since 1995, took to the streets. "We are just like you, listen to us!" the protestors shouted.

Israel's minister for immigration and integration, on the other hand, denies that a problem exists. Minister Sofa Landver, a Russian-born therapist, said the Falashas would be well advised to keep quiet. "They should be grateful to the State for everything that has been done for them," she said.

It is this kind of open disdain that spurred 5,000 ex-Ethiopians to give Molat Araro a hero's welcome upon his arrival in Jerusalem. They hope to protest in even greater numbers in Tel Aviv over the coming months.

"In Israel, you don't get anywhere if you don't shout. The time has come to act, because our situation is unbearable," says Kfissa, a single mother whose two daughters, aged 8 and 11, remain at home because no school will accept them. "We have had enough of not being good enough for anything except emptying bins for a meager wage or begging for welfare."

There are only about 100,000 Falashas in Israel. Together they represent just 1.5% of the population and have no representation in government. A disturbing sign of just how desperate conditions are for some Falashas are the numerous murder-suicide cases that have occurred over the past decade. There have been at least 30 cases of unemployed and depressed Falasha men killing their wives and children before taking their own lives. Dozens of others have attempted, unsuccessfully, to do the same.

Aware of the seriousness of the problem, the Ministry of Immigration commissioned a study in 2009, but the results were so damning for the State's integration policies that the most sensitive chapters were never released.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Vladim Lavrusik

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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