Zemenech Bililin has not seen her sisters in more than a decade, since she immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with part of her family. Now a 19-year-old infantry soldier in Israel’s military, Bililin says she is outraged that she is fulfilling her duties as a citizen but the state is shirking its responsibility to bring her relatives to Israel.
Bililin’s family is one of hundreds that have been split between Israel and Ethiopia over what they say is an inconsistent immigration policy, and whose fate hinges on an Israeli government decision over whether to allow for their reunification. Ethiopians in Israel say the bitter public feud to unite with long-lost relatives has exacerbated a feeling that the state discriminates against its Ethiopian minority.
“It’s shocking in my opinion. They only do this to us, to our ethnicity,” said Bililin. “The state should take responsibility and stop abandoning the Jews.”