In January 2013, Israel acknowledged that medical authorities have been giving Ethiopian immigrants long-term birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent. The Israeli government had previously denied the charges, which were first brought to light by investigative reporter Gal Gabbay in a December 8, 2012, broadcast of Israeli Educational Television’s news program, Vacuum. In January, the Israeli Health Ministry’s director-general, Ron Gamzu, ordered all gynecologists to stop administering the drugs.
Gabbay interviewed over thirty women from Ethiopia in an attempt to discover why birth rates in the immigrant community were so low. Israeli medical authorities had been injecting women of Ethiopian origin with a drug alleged to be Depo-Provera, a highly effective and long-lasting form of contraception. In some cases, the drugs were reportedly administered to women waiting in transit camps for permission to immigrate to Israel. Writing for the Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah makes the case that, “if the allegations are proven, this practice may fit the legal definition of genocide.”
Nearly 100,000 Ethiopian Jews have moved to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but some rabbis have questioned their Jewishness. In May 2012, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ignited controversy when he warned that illegal immigrants from Africa “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Israel Gave Birth Control to Ethiopian Immigrants without Their Consent
Alistair Dawber, “Israel Gave Birth Control to Ethiopian Jews without Their Consent,” Independent, January 27, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-gave-birth-control-to-ethiopian-jews-without-their-consent-8468800.html.
Ali Abunimah, “Did Israel Violate the Genocide Convention by Forcing Contraceptives on Ethiopian Women?” Electronic Intifada, January 28, 2013, http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/did-israel-violate-genocide-convention-forcing-contraceptives-ethiopian-women.
Beth Brogan, “Israel Admits Forced Birth Control For Ethiopian Immigrants,” Common Dreams, January 29, 2013, http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/29-0.
Student Researchers: Shanti Williams (College of Marin); Elizabeth Saechao (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (College of Marin); Noel Byrne (Sonoma State University)