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May 14, 2020 2:14 pm

Pnina Tamano-Shata Set to Become Israel’s First Ethiopian-Born Cabinet Minister

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

MK Pnina Tamano-Shata. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

MK Pnina Tamano-Shata is set to become the first Ethiopian-born Israeli cabinet minister after she was appointed to head the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration by Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz on Thursday.

Tamano-Shata was born in the village of Wuzaba in 1981 and came to Israel as part of the wave of Ethiopian aliyah known as Operation Moses in 1984.

In order to reach Israel, she, together with her father and five brothers, walked to Sudan, where they and thousands of others were airlifted to the Jewish state. Her mother was left behind and the family was only reunited several years later.

After receiving a law degree, Tamano-Shata became an activist, joined the Yesh Atid party in 2012, and served in the Knesset.

“I am excited and proud to take on the role of minister of aliyah and integration,” Tamano-Shata told Israeli daily Maariv.

She added, “For me, this is a landmark and the closing of a circle, from that three-year-old girl who immigrated to Israel without a mother on a cross-desert foot journey; through growing up in Israel and the struggles I led and am still leading for the community, integration, the acceptance of the other, and against discrimination and racism; up to my public mission inside and outside the walls of the Knesset and today to the status of minster of aliyah and integration.”

Tamano-Shata noted, “Aliyah is the soul and beating heart of the State of Israel. I will work diligently to encourage immigration from all countries of the world and to lead the reform of the immigrant absorption process in Israel.”

She called serving Israeli immigrants “a great national mission” and said she would work “with dedication and loyalty to make every immigrant child or adult feel at home from the first minute.”

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