The Falash Mura question is the biggest lie in the history of Ethiopian Jews. Members of this ethnic group have become hostages thanks to some American Jews who want reconciliation with Afro-Americans over the injustices done to them. Those US Jews are the ones who encourage and even finance the Falash Mura’s immigration to Israel, as if they truly discovered a Zionist group.
The bitterness and bad memories of Afro-Americans over the attitude of Jews towards them dates back to the black struggle during the 1960s and 1970s. The blacks had expected the Jews, as a persecuted people, to stand by them, but only few did. Ever since then, relations between the two groups are shaky. We, the Jews of Ethiopia, serve as a bargaining chip in this story. Because some American Jews wish to prove that they are not racist, they are forcing the State of Israel to bring people here who it doesn’t really want.
It would be a crude lie to claim that the Ethiopians who currently wait at transit camps are Jewish. Chief Rabbi Amar’s ruling that those are kosher Jews is unconvincing. Suddenly, the chief rabbis have become experts on Ethiopian Jewry? In the eyes of the Ashkenazi rabbinical establishment I am not even a true Jew yet, and I cannot even get married here.
We cannot claim that someone who was completely Christian for 600 years is suddenly a Jew. Many Ethiopian Jews know this is a lie, but bringing them to Israel is perceived as a way of boosting and strengthening the Ethiopian community.
The Jews of Ethiopia managed to maintain their cultural and ethnic status thanks to a religious leadership that safeguarded them. The religious leaders constituted an important anchor for community members and tried to intervene when they saw some Jews converting to Christianity. They mourned each person who chose that way and saw this as a great failure.
But now, a group of rabbis and various missionaries rules that these Falash Mura are Jewish. Moreover, the estimates that 20,000 Falash Mura members are waiting to move to Israel are false. In fact, we are talking about an endless number, particularly if we consider their kinship to those who already made it to Israel. Based on such definitions, all of Ethiopia’s residents can become Israeli.
Send them backMy efforts, as a pure Jew who fought hard to be accepted by society, are undermined when after 20 years we suddenly discover that there are thousands more who are seemingly “good Jews” as well – yet all those working to bring them here are lying about their religion. About 4,000 of us died en route to Israel, on a road we embarked on for religious reasons and not in order to improve our economic status. The Falash Mura immigration will gravely undermine the black Jews in Israel and could cause irreversible damage.
Groups of German and British missionaries whose aim is to bring community members closer to Christianity are currently active in Israel, and their activity undermines the foundations of Ethiopian Jewry, while at the same time Jesus is boosted by the rabbinate. Bringing the Falash Mura to Israel threatens our tradition, and it’s not difficult to imagine the processes that would follow, particularly in light of the assimilation that already exists today.
Danny Adino Ababa is an Ethiopian-born journalist