Knesset Committee Meets on Racism While Degel Menashe Is Silenced
(March 17) A special session of the Knesset’s Committee on Aliyah and Absorption met on Monday, March 13, to discuss the issue of alleged anti-Bnei Menashe racism in Israeli society. This issue has been raised repeatedly both within and without the Bnei Menashe community since the murder of Yoel Lhanghal in a teenage brawl in Kiryat Shmonah on October 6, even though a thorough Channel 12 investigatory documentary, as reported by our Newsletter on February 23, turned up no significant evidence that racist motives lay behind the incident.
The Knesset meeting was presided over by the Committee’s chairman Oded Forer of the Israel Beiteinu Party. Among those present were former Minister of Aliyah and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata, Blue and White Knesset member Hili Tropper, ex-MK Moti Yogev, and a panel of invitees consisting largely of representatives of Shavei Israel, such as Edith Blaustein, Tavi Khaute, Rivka Rei, Yafa Yatzkan, Itzhak Kawlni, and others. Representing Degel Menashe were Yitzhak Thangjom and Yael Lunkhel. The meeting was also attended by Yoel’s father and grandfather, who gave a tearful account of his grandson’s dream of serving in the IDF, and by young Bnei Menashe from all over Israel. The Jewish Agency was represented by Yair Kannai, its official entrusted with Bnei Menashe affairs.
The meeting lasted for little over an hour, and the speakers all condemned the racism in Israeli society and supposed prejudice against the B’nei Menashe. In contravention to promises made to it, the Degel Menashe delegation was not allowed to speak. This was doubly unfortunate -- once because it was yet another example of how, at Shavei Israel’s instigation, Degel Menashe has been shunned by some official bodies or relegated to second-rate status, and a second time because Thangjom and Lunkhel would have presented, based on a recent Degel Menashe survey, a very different view from that put forth by all the speakers.
We hope to post the results of this survey early next week.