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Culture minister tells Ethiopians she’s ‘proud to be black’

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Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev tells audience at ceremonial launch of Center for the Legacy of Ethiopian Jewry that government is "making a historic correction" to its treatment of Ethiopian immigrants, who have been "discriminated against."

"The time for black has arrived!" Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) told the audience Sunday at an official government ceremony marking the opening of Insera -- the Center for the Legacy of Ethiopian Jewry held at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

The center will operate under the auspices of the Culture and Sport Ministry and will focus on research and education in the field of Ethiopian Jewry. The center is to be headed by Dr. Simcha Gathon, director of multiculturalism at ELEM, and head of the Association for Ethiopian Jews Danny Admaso, who will serve as the center's director.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to conference participants via a recorded message in which he said, "The center will serve to preserve the proud legacy of the Beta Israel community. It is a national mission to expose the Israeli public to this culture and inculcate it. In doing so, we will give the Ethiopian Jewish culture the place it deserves in Jewish history."

Regev also gave a speech, telling the audience that "I'm happy to be here and celebrate this historic even with you. I believe that this innovative act expresses the responsibility of the Israeli government, which is making an important historic correction.

"The Ethiopians have been discriminated against like all the black people in our country – the haredim [who traditionally wear black], Arabs, and Jews from Arab countries. The time for black has arrived! You and I are proud to be black! [Regev is of Moroccan descent]. In recent months, I've had the privilege to complete the reform I announced of culture for everyone, including a priority for unique cultures."

"We are going to establish two dedicated funds that will help the Ethiopian community, one for scholarships and young artists and the second to fund [business] initiatives by young Ethiopian producers."

The minister added, "I'm standing here and saying clearly: No one can stop Ethiopian Jewry from rousing itself. We will support your courageous path, because cultural justice must come through fair, egalitarian budgeting for cultural institutions. Just like there is a place for the Yiddishpiel Theater, there is a place for Ethiopian theater."

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