The Jewish State is soon to send an Ethiopian born Belaynesh Zevadia
to Addis Ababa as its top diplomat, various Israeli media outlets reported earlier this week.
The Israel Foreign Ministry’s Nominating Committee named the 44-year-old Belaynesh Zevadia, Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia. The appointment needs the country’s cabinet approval which, when secured, would make Belaynesh the first ever Ethiopian Jew Ambassador of Israel.
Belaynesh immigrated to Israel at the age of sixteen and became the first Ethiopian cadet at the Israeli Foreign Ministry. She has previously served in Chicago and Texas Israeli consulates. Belaynesh holds an MA in Anthropology and African Studies and a BA in International Relations.
“It is a great pride to be appointed an ambassador and especially to be the first ambassador from the Ethiopian community,” Belaynesh was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
“I came to Israel as a teenager and now I’m going back to Ethiopia as an ambassador. It’s an honor for me and my family and I want to thank Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Foreign Ministry’s people for their trust. This is proof that Israel provides an opportunity for everyone, both long time citizens as well as new immigrants.”
Belaynesh’s appointment is expected to serve as a message to boost spirits of the discriminated Ethiopian community there. An estimated 125,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, but while they are supposed to be full citizens with equal rights, their community has continued to face widespread discrimination and socio-economic difficulties.
“The appointment is a message to the Israeli public, one that is currently fighting racism against Ethiopians. This transmits a message of fighting discrimination,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The appointment of an Ethiopian born diplomat to Ethiopia follows Israeli Prime Minister’s decision to finally give in to calls to increase flow of Ethiopian Jews to immigrate into the country.
Under the new arrangement some 250 Falash Mura – Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors are believed to be converted to Christianity more than a century ago, will immigrate to the Jewish State. Currently 110 new immigrants arrive in Israel each month.
An immigrant herself, soon to be Ambassador Belaynesh will be charged with leading the efforts to address a surging flow of immigrants. Belaynesh would replace Oded Ben-Haim who has served as Israel’s Ambassador to Ethiopia since 2008. Ambassador Ben-Haim is expected to depart this month.