Thursday, August 2, 2007

Interiour Minister Sheetrit: No More Falasha Mura

From the Jerusalem Post:

Falash Mura aliya from Ethiopia should be stopped immediately and Israel should focus on becoming a "real state" rather than a "committee" for the Jewish people, according to Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post earlier this week, he said the immigration of the Falash Mura - people whose Jewish ancestors were forcibly converted to Christianity centuries ago - was a mission that is impossible to finish.
Asked whether this stance would put him in direct conflict with organized US Jewry, which has been actively involved in supporting and funding the immigration of an estimated 4,500 remaining Falash Mura, he responded: "I don't care."

"If they want to take care of them, take them to America," Sheetrit said. "I haven't seen them take even one Ethiopian to America. In the meantime, Israel is the only country to get Ethiopians, and we accept them with open hearts."

He said his stance was not racist, adding: "Try to become a citizen of Switzerland. Will they take you there? You can only dream of it, but does anyone call them racists? No."

Sheetrit said the best solution would be to close the door to mass aliya and to assess each application for citizenship on an individual basis.

"I say, let's give every Jew the possibility to have temporary citizenship in Israel, and then let's check after five years," he said. "Then nobody can come to you with allegations of racism."

Who are the Falash Mura? The Jewish Virtual Library explains:

Ethiopian Jews have been the targets of missionaries for many decades. When the missionary activity intensified at the end of the 19th century, large numbers of the Beta Israel community converted. From approximately that time until Israel began to actively help the Jews immigrate, members of the Beta Israel community have abandoned their faith. Some did so because they were pressured or persuaded by the missionaries, others responded to social pressure and some may have viewed conversion as a way to improve their economic condition (for example, they could then own land). These people who had once been Jews, or, more often, whose ancestors had been Jews, are referred to as the Falash Mura.

The Israelis find themselves in a no-win situation. They do not want to simply accept unlimited immigration from Ethiopia. They are convinced that tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians will claim Jewish heritage if they do not follow strict procedures for determining eligibility to immigrate. In the meantime, the large numbers of Falash Mura who settled in camps in Gondar and Addis have created a severe humanitarian problem. They need jobs, shelter, food. These needs cannot be ignored, but, at the same time, if better services are provided, it will only attract more Falash Mura to the camps.

The Falash Mura are also in an impossible situation. While Jews virtually everywhere else in the world stay in their homes until they are given permission to immigrate, the Ethiopians uprooted themselves and have nowhere to go. Their land, cattle and homes have been bought or confiscated by their neighbors. It no longer matters why they left, whether by force, coercion or encouragement from activists, they are now living as urban slum dwellers. They will either be cared for by humanitarian organizations, allowed to immigrate to Israel, live a subsistence existence or die.

In early 2001, nearly 20,000 Falash Mura remained in camps in Gondar and Addis. Approximately 8,000 live in their villages near the camps. The Israelis accelerated their consideration of applications. The first priority was being given to divided families, then those eligible under the Law of Return and finally humanitarian or rare special cases. About one of three applicants was found to be eligible.

The Falash Mura received additional support in 2002 when Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, whose 1973 recognition of the Beta Israel as Jewish had paved the way for the large-scale immigration of Ethiopian Jews, declared that the Falash Mura had converted out of fear and persecution and therefore should be considered Jews.

The real problem here is that Interiour Minister Sheetrit is suggesting that Israel abandon the Law of Return which states that any Jew can become a citizen of Israel automatically. Sheetrit is essentially saying that he would like to put an end to the idea of a Jewish State. Without aliyah, Israel could not possibly survive. Sheetrit suggests that the United States take in the Falash Mura but he is ignoring the fact that the US has no obligation to help them while Israel, as the Jewish State, does. Why is there such apathy when it comes to helping black Jews? There are thousands of Ethiopian Jews waiting in Addis Adaba to make aliyah and yet only 300 are allowed to come per month. However, if 10 000 French Jews would want to make aliyah tomorrow, there would be no quotas. The Falash Mura are full Jews in every sense and only converted under duress. As long as they accept to return to Judaism and to abandon Christianity, they have every right to return to Israel.
The Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar was sent secretly to by Torah sage Rav Ovadiah Yosef to Africa to investigate the Jewish roots of the Falash Mura. Rav Ovadia Yosef eventually declared them full Zera Yisrael, Descendants of Israel. They consider themselves to be descendants of the lost tribe of Dan and in case their Jewishness is in doubt, they all undergo an Orthodox conversion upon landing in Israel.
The day when Israel abandons the Law of Return will be the day that the Zionist dream dies. Lets hope that that day never comes.


Michael said...

Bar Kochba:
This is a great post.
Personally, I think that Israel ought to reverse the priority on Ethiopian vs Russian aliyah. At this point, the Jews who could leave the former Soviet Union have left; the people coming now are 2/3 non-Jews, who don't want to be Jews, and feel no connection to Israel. Israel is just a way out of Russia for them.

The Ethiopians, on the other hand, want to come. They want to be here. And they're willing to convert, to put a stop to the doubts. Israel needs that kind of commitment.

It angers me, as an oleh, to see so much of the MOIA services geared to Russian-only, when there are so many other groups needing help.

Brooklyn Habiru said...

It is not as simple as you assert, the majority of Beta Israel that have already returned to Eretz Yisrael actually qualify under the Law of Return. However, large swaths of the Falash Mura remaining are still practicing Christianity, and are not Halachic Jews. The last thing we need are tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians trying to claim Jewish heritage simply so that they can leave the squalor they find themselves in behind. This is not a matter of racism, and not a matter of disbarring Jews from returning home. This is a very practical matter of not allowing Israel to be swamped by those of dubious Jewish ancestry from third world countries who want to come primarily on the basis that they can be guaranteed a better life – not because they are in fact Jewish, and have a connection to the Land. Yes, many jump through hoops and have been trained to appear as Jewish as possible, but the true Jewish Ethiopians that have already arrived are themselves calling upon Israel to stop the Falash Mura (See:Keisim Urge End to Falash Mura Immigration). In my esteem, only those that have already undergone Orthodox conversion in Ethiopia should be admitted, rather than allowing them to enter, and then convert (as is currently the case). Granted that Sheetrit is a doofus and would gladly have the State destroyed under suicidal peace initiatives, and granted that the tone of his proclamation seems to indicate minimally that he’d be happy to see all Aliyah end. However the issue of the Falash Mura is of major concern, the last thing we need is another case paralleling the Russian immigration wherein thousands of gentiles piggybacked along for the ride – and are now posing serious problems for the Jewish state, culturally and spiritually. I open my arms towards all of our Jewish brethren of every stripe and color, but to welcome such a population to the state en masse seems neither prudent nor wise.

WomanHonorThyself said...

great post ..such a complex issue..I remember learning about Falashas decades ago!

Michael said...

Thank you for reminding me about the Ethiopians here asking the gov't not to let the Ethiopian Christians in. It's a good point, that I had forgotten.

It is a complex issue, and combined with the current problems in Russian aliyah, it means that some serious rethinking needs to be done about where to allocate absorption resources.

But repealing the Law of Return is the worst idea that I have ever heard.

Brooklyn Habiru said...

No one has outright called for the abolition of the "Law of Return", but now that we are on the topic, I believe it would be preferable if the law were amended back to its original 1952 state before 1970 when it was expanded to allow for many more people that do not qualify as Halachic Jews.

John Brown said...

I appreciate the effort to call attention to the racist nature of Apartheid Israel's immigration policy.

Much like Uncle Sam, who denies his own racism, Apartheid Israel's defenders shuck'n'jive big-time when it comes to justifying the efforts to facilitate Vanilla Zionist immigration and discouraging the same treatment for others.

Ethiopian Jews are barred from schools and denied the same welfare benefits afforded to AshkeNazis.

Of course the people indigenous to Palestine are not subject to the Right to Return.

That's because the UN, who midwifed Apartheid Israel into existence, has decided to give the Zionist colony the option of deciding which laws it must enforce to preserve its identity as an Apartheid pseudo-state.

Rita Loca said...

I am curious, is the rejection based on a lack of proof of their Jewish ancestry or merely the fact they are Christian? Is a secular or atheist Jew more acceptable to Israel than a Christian of Jewish ancestry?

John Brown said...

It's based on the fact that they aren't Vanilla Zionists, JM.

It's pretty simple, really. If they were Polish rather than Ethiopian, they'd get in no questions asked.

Hell, Apartheid Israel's offering a $60,000 bribe (surely Uncle Sam's money) to Iranian Jews to come... though without much luck.

Avi said...

Jungle Mom: The law of Return is not based on religion per se and a secular Jew is still a Jew. One who converts however abandons his people and faith and cannot use the law of return. This was decided in the case of Brother Daniel, a Carmelite monk who used to be Jewish and was refused entry.
P.S. I'm in Rome (amazing) and do not have a computer to answer in length.

Rita Loca said...

Smells a bit of religious intolerance to me. Like saying all Americans must be born protestant.So, if a Jew converts to Christianity, then their children would not be eligible to return even though they were born into a Christian family?
What is the status for a Jew in Israel who converts? Do they lose their right to be Israeli?
I am very curious about all this. YOU ARE IN ROME!!!!! Cool!!!

Anonymous said...

I was reading this post, and the gentleman who said there aren't any Ethiopians in the U.S. is wrong. There are a lot of them in Atlanta, Ga. All he has to do is visit the airport to meet some, a lot of them work there. Incidently, they have an unfortunate proclivity for settling disputes with knives, from what the paper say.

John Brown said...

Uncle Sam, on the other hand, prefers to settle His disputes with chemical weapons and genocide.

Of course the Zionist settler colony practices religious intolerance, JM. That's their very reason for existence.

Brooke said...

Interesting. So it is less of a "bad" to be secular than to convert...

I can't imagine that if I tried Catholicism for awhile and decided to come back to my previous faith that I would be refused.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've got it! Let's let the Falash Mura go to Russia, and all those Russian goyim can go to Ethiopia.


Avi said...

Brooke: You never lose your Jewishness in reality. Should you wish to return, no conversion is needed.
JM: Israel can't be compared to the US which was not created to be a specific homeland for a particular people.
PS I saw the Vatican today! That Michelangelo had some talent.

Rita Loca said...

bar, but that's my point, is it based on religion or DNA?
I understand the special need for the law of Return for Israel, but, a Jew is a Jew when born into a Jewish family ,or not?

Brooke said...

Ah, I misunderstood.

AmPowerBlog said...

Hi Bar Kochba: Thanks for commenting on my blog.

Great work you have going here - keep it up!

Burkean Reflections

Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

Interesting post. To be honest however I never learned about Falashas, it seems like a thorny or complex issue, so whilst reading I assumed the role of student and learned something. Thank you

ziontruth said...

Oh yeah.

"Let the Falashmura in? No. We're not a dumping-ground for Jews from all the world".

"Fire Zahalka from the Knesset? Are you crazy?! That would be racism!"

Sometimes I feel like doing a Tevyeh act, asking HaShem, "Could we please get a break from those idiots in charge? Are our sins so great that we have to be saddled with them for so long?"

Repealing the Law of Return, by the way, is one of the constant demands posted by the anti-Zionists on left-wing sites such as Daily Kos. And it goes hand in hand with demanding the application of the "Palestinian Right of Return". But no, don't call them anti-Semitic.

John Brown said...

When you call those who oppose Apartheid Israel Anti-Semitic, ZY, you only prove that you don't have any idea who Semites are.

They're not AshkeNazis... they're the very Palestinians whom you say has no right to their home.

Vanilla Zionists are land-stealing imperialist squatters from Europe.

John Brown said...

Shock of Shocks.

Vanilla Zionist squatters act like... well.. like Vanilla Zionist Squatters.

Notice there are no claims that they're not Jewish enough - it's purely AshkeNazis being themselves.

Ethiopian kids refused schooling

Eighty children of Ethiopian descent refused admission to Petah Tikvah elementary schools following parent board's objection. Municipality says matter being treated, Education Ministry deputy general says situation 'unacceptable'

"Less than three weeks before the school year begins, 80 children of Ethiopian descent residing in Petah Tikvah find themselves with no place to carry out their first year of elementary school. An inquiry revealed that at least eight of the children were refused admission due to racist reasons.

"The families of eight of the children said they discovered a few days ago that their children were not assigned to the first grade of their neighborhood school because parents of other children objected to having Ethiopian students study there.

"Erez Sandovski, a friend of the Moloyia family whose son Yossef was not admitted to the neighborhood school has been trying to help the family.

"The father (of the Moloyia family) told me with tears in his eyes that it was all because they were Ethiopian. I didn't believe him and went to the school's principal. The principal passed responsibility on to the municipality, and there I was transferred through different departments. In one of the departments I was told that the matter was being treated," Sandovski said.

"Sandovski described the "creative" excuses he was given by the municipality, and said, "After asking directly if that (the children's descent) was the problem and receiving twisted answers, I carried out a brief inquiry among the parents in the school, and the cat came out of the bag. The teachers' board opposed the registration of more Ethiopian children to the school."

"A Petah Tikvah municipality spokesperson said in response: "There are 80 Ethiopian children whose integration into the city has not been successful. The mayor is supposed to meet with Education Ministry Director General Shmuel Aboav to discuss ways of integrating all the students into the municipal education systems – both private and state schools."

"The spokesperson continued to condemn the parents' behavior, saying, "We pay no attention and give no importance to their position. We will do everything we see fit for all the students. We will find an appropriate educational system, and we hope that the parents will show patience and tolerance…I despise parents who object to students because of the color of their skin."

Aboav said state schools or state-religious schools refusing to accept Ethiopian children was out of the question.

"This is a decision that we cannot accept, and we demand Ethiopian students be integrated into municipal education systems in every town…We will fight this unacceptable phenomenon," he said.

ziontruth said...

John Brown,

When you make a comments about "being a Semite", and "AshkeNazis", and "Vanilla Zionists", you only prove that the single purveyor of racism in our day and age, and the only reason why racism still remains a problem, is, ironically, the Left. The Left thrives on racism, and invents cases of it even when it doesn't exist, for without the bogeyman of racism to counter, the Left is rendered irrelevant.

You can trot out the Khazaria Hypothesis 'til the cows come home, but it still wouldn't make your point. Because--so few are aware of this--Judaism is not based on race. See:

The Khazar Myth and the New Anti-Semitism

You Leftist scum's attempts to frame Zionism as a "white European colonial settler movement" (another example of the Left's hypocritical racism and obsession with racial questions) are contemptible as they are pathetic. Zionism is about the return of all Jews to their homeland, the Land of Israel, no matter their skin color. Nor has the experience of Jews in the Islamic Diaspora been any different than that of their brothers in Christian Europe, however much you try to paint it otherwise.

John Brown said...

All Jews except Ethiopian ones you mean, right younster.

Because AshkeNazis want a pure Vanilla state in which they can practice their rabid and genocidal anti-Semitism.

Zionism is simply a tool of Vanilla Imperialism to steal land from indigenous people.

You can trumpet all the nonsense you want about 'homelands'. Zionism was born in Europe by Europeans for Europeans. The AshkeNazis who rule in Apartheid Israel are Vanilla Europeans.

Apartheid Israel exists because the UN midwifed it into existence in 1947 and because Uncle Sam keeps pumping them full of welfare checks.

John Brown said...

"The Left," incidentally, doesn't kill Palestinian babies left and right like the Zionist Jack-Booters do.

Nor do we build Apartheid Walls.

Who are the racists?

ziontruth said...

On "AshkeNazis" and "a pure Vanilla state":

Former Commander-in-Chief of the IDF: Dan Halutz - Jew of Iranian descent.

Former President of Israel (before Peres): Moshe Katsav - Jew of Iranian descent.

Minister of National Infrastructure: Binyamin Ben Eliezer - of Iraqi descent.

Minister of Communications: Ariel Atias - of Moroccan descent.

Minister of Industry and Trade: Eli Yishai - of Moroccan descent.

This is a very partial list, but I think it should suffice. Jews of European descent do not have the monopoly of governance in the state of Israel. They did in the first two decades of the state, but we're now at 2007, in case you haven't noticed. Of course you haven't noticed--to read articles on lefty websites, one would think we're still at the beginning of the 20th century.

God will give you your reward for stoking hatred where there should be none. A lengthy and fiery reward. Gratuitous hatred is one of the gravest sins in His eyes.

Israel does not exist because of any UN decree. It exists because of God's promise to His people in the Torah. His people, the Jews, are the only true nation to whom the Land of Israel belongs; any other nation is a usurper of this soil. Also, the "Palestinians" are not a real nation--they have no history, no cultural heritage, nothing in common except the platform of wiping out the Jews (God forbid), which you, whether intentionally or not, support when you buy into their cobbled-up narrative.

ziontruth said...

Oh, and by the way, Mr. John "Israel is a pure Vanilla state" Brown:

What do you think of the words of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, from after Katrina, about his vision that New Orleans "will be a chocolate city"? (link) Do you condemn them, or is it only pro-vanilla racism that gets your goat, while pro-chocolate racism is A-OK in your eyes?

Inquiring minds want to know...

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