Ethiopian-Born Knesset Member Rejected As a Blood Donor

Lawmakers Call for An Examination of Magen David Adom

By JTA

Published December 11, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israeli lawmakers called for an examination of Magen David Adom blood donation policies after an Ethiopia-born Knesset member was rejected as a donor.

Pnina Tamano-Shata of the Yesh Atid party tried to donate during a special blood drive Wednesday at the Knesset but was told she could not because she had “the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood,” according to Ynet, which first broke the story.

Tamano-Shata was told subsequently that she could donate but the blood would be frozen and never used.

“I am good enough to serve the state and in the Knesset,” Tamano-Shata told Ynet. “But for some reason to give blood I am not good enough. This is insulting.”

The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee will meet in emergency session on Monday to discuss the issue.

Tamano-Shata has lived in Israel since she was 3 years old and served in the Israel Defense Forces. As a youth she protested the MDA practice of discarding Ethiopian blood donations, according to Ynet.

Eilat Shinar, MDA’s director of blood services, told Ynet that “the regulations of the Ministry of Health do not allow the use of a blood infusion from someone who was born or lived for more than a year in an HIV-prevalent country since 1977, including countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean islands.”

In the wake of Wednesday’s incident, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein banned further MDA blood drives at the parliament. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Tamano-Shata and said he would call for an investigation into the Health Ministry directives.

“There can be no differentiation between one blood and the other in the State of Israel,” Israeli President Shimon Peres told Ynet. Health Minister Yael German told Ynet, “I find it absurd that in Israel of 2013, people of Ethiopian descent that came to Israel over 25 years ago can still not donate blood.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.