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Israel Appoints Ethiopian Immigrant as Ambassador to Addis Ababa

An immigrant who arrived from Ethiopia at the age of 17 has been appointed to serve as Israel’s first Ethiopian-born ambassador and the first native Ethiopian to represent the Jewish state in Addis Ababa. Belaynesh Zevadia, now 43, has served in diplomatic posts in the United States, but this will be her first ambassadorship. Although an estimated 58,000 Ethiopians have come to Israel in two major waves of immigration – one in the early 1980s and one a decade later – the absorption process has not been without difficulties. Ethiopian families are large and more of them form single-parent units than do the rest of the population; and high-profile issues of racism have appeared periodically. In announcing the appointment, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, himself an immigrant from Moldova, said the selection of Zevadia “sent a message of anti-discrimination…especially at a time when Israel is fighting racism directed at the Ethiopian community.”