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September 18, 2019 4:36 pm

Following Summer Protests, Support for Likud Falls Among Ethiopian Israelis

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Police guard next to protesters during a demonstration in Jerusalem against the death of 18-year-old Solomon Tekah of Ethiopian descent, after he was shot by an off-duty policeman, July 15, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Following several months of upheaval and protest, Ethiopian Israelis appeared to be leaving their traditional political home in the Likud party in Tuesday’s Knesset elections.

The Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported on a sharp drop in support for rightist Likud between the April and September elections in heavily-Ethiopian areas.

In between the two elections, massive protests erupted over the shooting of 18-year-old Solomon Tekah by an off-duty police officer in Kiryat Haim, with demonstrators charging police brutality and racism directed against their community.

In the Kiryat Moshe section of the central Israeli town Rehovot, which is heavily Ethiopian, the Likud vote dropped from 53 percent to 42 percent. The centrist Blue and White party, on the other hand, saw its support rise from 13 percent to 28 percent.

Another heavily-Ethiopian neighborhood — Eliyahu in Rishon LeZion — showed similar results, with the Likud vote falling from 53 percent to 43 percent.

In the Weizman neighborhood of Kiryat Gat, which has a large number of Ethiopian residents, Likud dropped from 50 percent to 39 percent, while Blue and White more than doubled its share of the vote.

The Shoftim neighborhood saw a similar result, with Likud dropping from 49 percent to 38 percent.

In Kiryat Gat as a whole, the Likud fell from 46 percent to 38 percent. The city is seen as heavily right-wing.

One Ethiopian-Israeli from Kiryat Malachi told Yediot that she faced hostility for not supporting Likud, saying, “The number of times I’ve been called a ‘leftist’ yesterday has set new records. I even got a new nickname today: terrorist lover.”

Another Ethiopian Israel from Haifa said of changing her vote, “I hope people understand that we won’t blindly follow those who ignore our most basic demands like sheep.”

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