“We are very disappointed with the Foreign Ministry’s recommendation not to visit the Jewish community.”
President Reuven Rivlin will not visit the Jewish community center in Addis Ababa during an official state visit to Ethiopia, the Foreign Ministry announced. To the dismay of the Jewish community in Addis Ababa, residents were disappointed to hear that the Israeli president will not come to their community building because of opposition from the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
Rivlin is scheduled to leave for Ethiopia on Monday for an official visit with President Mulatu Teshome.
Coordinators and leaders of the Ethiopian aliya program published a statement on Friday criticizing the Foreign Ministry for their decision: “We have heard that the Foreign Ministry opposes President Rivlin’s visit to the Jewish community during his trip to Ethiopia on Tikkun Olam. This action will harm future relations between the Ethiopian community and representatives of the Israeli government.”
In addition, the leaders praised Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who, despite the opposition of the Foreign Ministry, visited the community during a trip to Ethiopia last week. She was warmly welcomed during what was hailed as a historic visit by a senior Israeli figure.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who visited Ethiopia a few months ago, did not come to the community building. However, he met with representatives of the community at his hotel. The official explanation for declining to visit the community building was “security reasons.”
A month ago, the president of the Jewish community of Addis Ababa, Melissa Sideseto and former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar sent an official invitation to the Israeli president to visit the Jewish community building in Addis Ababa.
“I appeal to you to find time to at least visit the residents waiting to make aliyah in Addis Ababa. They look forward to your visit,” read the letter.
“We respect President Rivlin for all his work on behalf of the Ethiopian community, but in the same breath we are very disappointed with the Foreign Ministry’s recommendation not to visit the Jewish community, as is customary in every visit to the Diaspora.”
“The meeting with the leaders of the remaining Jewish communities in Ethiopia will take place at the President’s hotel, an arrangement that was agreed upon by all parties,” The Foreign Ministry said in response.