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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopia’

Ethiopia-Born Model Wins Israel’s ‘Big Brother’

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

An Ethiopia-born model won the fifth season of Israel’s “Big Brother” reality show.

Tahunia Rubel, 25, won the 1 million shekel prize, worth about $274,000, becoming the second woman to win on the show.

Many conflicts surrounded Rubel, including some dealing with race and ethnic identity. Some of the racial conflict reportedly caused two other contestants, a father and son, to be disqualified.

Earlier this year, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel, Yityish Titi Aynam, 21, was crowned Miss Israel.

450 Ethiopians Left Gondar for Final Aliyah Flights

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Some 450 new immigrants from Ethiopia boarded two Jewish Agency-chartered flights bound for Israel on Wednesday, August 28. Since 2010, thousands of Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel as part of Operation Dove’s Wings. The two flights brought this historic effort to a dramatic close. The new immigrants’ relatives were on hand in Israel to greet them. Upon the flights’ arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, there was a welcome ceremony webcast live at 5:00 a.m. EDT on The Jewish Agency’s website. A recording of the webcast will remain on The Jewish Agency’s website for later viewing and sharing.

Operation Dove’s Wings began in November 2010 with the Government of Israel (GOI)’s decision to bring 8,000 Falash Mura in Gondar to Israel. The GOI tapped The Jewish Agency to prepare those eligible for entry to Israel and to facilitate their Aliyah in concert with immigration eligibility standards regulated by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior and in preparation for their resettlement in Israel by the Ministry of Absorption. Since Dove’s Wings’ inception, The Jewish Agency brought 7,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, the majority of whom are members of the Falash Mura community, and several hundred of whom were eligible for Aliyah through Israel’s Law of Return.

To prepare these olim (immigrants) for a successful life in Israel, The Jewish Agency for Israel has run a community center in Gondar, Ethiopia for the past three years and with the support of IFCJ and JFNA. This center has provided a wide range of educational and social services. Upon their repatriation in Israel, The Jewish Agency housed these new immigrants in 17 absorption centers throughout the country that are run by The Agency and Israel’s Absorption Ministry.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky shared that “This is a moving historical moment, and upon the completion of operation Dove’s Wings, we have come full circle with what started three thousand years ago.”

Since 1948, with the founding of Israel, 90,000 Ethiopian Jews have immigrated to Israel. Sharansky thanked The Agency’s global and Israeli partners for their sustained support to bring these olim to Israel and to facilitate their absorption there. He added that “The Jewish Agency will continue to assist any Ethiopians deemed eligible for Aliyah by Israel’s Interior Ministry, as we do for Jews worldwide.”

Minister of Absorption Sofa Landver said, “Three years after I advised the Prime Minister of Israel to bring Operation Dove’s Wings to an end, to close the compound in Gondar and to complete the journey of organized Aliyah from Ethiopia, I am proud to take part in this historic event. I wish to thank all our partners and promise that the Government of Israel will do everything in its power to resettle these new immigrants in the best way possible.”

Jewish School in Gondar, Ethiopia Closes as Aliyah Ends

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky on Monday turned over the keys to the Jewish school of Gondar, Ethiopia, to the town’s mayor as the final flight of Ethiopian immigrants prepares to leave for Israel..

The Jewish Agency Monday’s funded and maintained the school, where approximately 2,500 Ethiopian children studied while awaiting their immigration to Israel.

The Jewish Agency donated all the school buildings and equipment to the municipality of Gondar.

“Jews lived in Gondar for 2,500 years however, their longing to return home never weakened,” Sharansky said at the ceremony. “Today we bring to an end a journey that spans thousands of years — the conclusion of Operation Wings of a Dove,” which was launched in November 2010 when the Israeli government decided to check the aliyah eligibility of an additional 8,000 or so Ethiopians.

The petitioners are known as Falash Mura — Ethiopians who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to  b

Evidence that Morsi Actually Lost the Egyptian Presidency

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Just days after his apparent victory, Cynthia Farahat and I expressed our skepticism about the validity of these election returns:

SCAF exploits the Muslim Brotherhood and other proxies as its civilian fronts, a role they are happy to play, by permitting Islamists to garner an outsized percentage of the parliamentary vote, then to win the presidency. During the suspicious week-long delay before the presidential votes were announced, SCAF met with the Muslim Brotherhood’s real leader, Khairat El-Shater, and reached a deal whereby Morsi became president but SCAF still governs.

Earlier, we had doubted two earlier rounds of elections (see “Egypt’s Sham Election” and “Don’t Ignore Electoral Fraud in Egypt.”)

Though few analysts have embraced this version, there have been hints of it:

(1) On July 31, 2013, Josh Goodman and James Parks wrote in “Morsi Was Neither Democratically Nor Duly Elected” that

hailing Morsi as the democratically elected representative of the Egyptian people appears to be based on a rather loose understanding of “democracy.” The Brotherhood has been accused of bribing and intimidating voters and rigging ballots during the 2012 elections. The election suffered from abysmally poor voter turnout (43.4% of registered voters), which is especially troubling given the ostensibly historic nature of the race. Out of 23 million voters in the first round of elections, 12 million did not vote for either of the two candidates ultimately placed in the run-off vote. Capping this all off was a blatant power grab from the military, which changed the constitution mid-election to limit the power of the newly elected President.

(2) On Aug. 3, 2013, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave an interview in which he both denied having rigged Morsi’s election and (more interestingly) asserted that he could have done so had he wanted to.

Q: So you were giving the president advice on Ethiopia and the Sinai, for example, and he was ignoring you?

A: We were very keen and predetermined on his success. If we wanted to oppose or not allow them to come to rule Egypt, we would have done things with the elections, as elections used to be rigged in the past.

Now comes a testimonial from an un-named Egyptian official via the Israeli politician Yossi Beilin in “Morsi didn’t win the elections” that

Ahmed Shafiq, the former air force commander and former president Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, actually won the race by a narrow margin. But the army generals—wanting to ensure that law and order would be upheld following the elections—feared that if Morsi was defeated, the Muslim Brotherhood would refuse to recognize the results and would end up conducting themselves just as they are now.

The official results, 51.73 percent for Morsi and 48.27% for Shafiq, were almost the exact reversal of what actually happened at the polls. After the results were published, we barely heard any calls for protest or opposition among the secular-liberals, while on the religious side—loyal either to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi parties—voters were happy with their achievement.

Beilin goes on to explain that military officers expected the inexperienced Morsi to respect the army but he did not. Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi came under pressure from fellow generals some months ago but Sisi gave Morsi a chance to make amends.

Israel Raises Funds to Treat Ethiopian Boy Mauled by Hyena

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Israeli officials have joined international efforts to save an 8-year-old boy who was mauled by a wild hyena in Ethiopia.

Bedouin-Israeli diplomat Ismail Khaldi and Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Belaynesh Zevadia, are spearheading a campaign for contributions for bringing Abdul Razek to the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya.

Five months ago, the hyena attacked Abdul’s village, killing five and injuring 15. Abdul suffered severe head, scalp and eye injuries, and lost one of his ears. The estimated cost of the operation is $40,000.

With most of the money raised, it is expected the boy could come to Israel by the end of the week.

Dr. Rick Hodes of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is on a mission in Ethiopia and interceded with the hospital on behalf of the child.

End of an Era: Ethiopian Aliyah to Stop Next Month

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

The Jewish Agency is preparing to end mass aliyah from Ethiopia with two final flights consisting of 400 immigrants on Aug. 28.

The Jewish Agency emissary to Ethiopia, Asher Seyum, made the announcement in a brief letter, saying the Jewish Agency will hand over its aid compounds in the Ethiopian city of Gondar to local authorities at the end of August.

For years the compounds – originally established by the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry and only recently taken over by the Jewish Agency – provided thousands of Ethiopians waiting to immigrate to Israel with educational, nutritional and some employment services.

Once the final flights are complete, Ethiopians wishing to immigrate to Israel will be subject to the same rules as potential immigrants from elsewhere in the world and considered on a case-by-case basis, a New York-based spokesman for the Jewish Agency told JTA.

A steady trickle of approximately 200 Ethiopian immigrants per month has been coming to Israel since 2010, when the government decided to check the aliyah eligibility of an additional 8,000 or so Ethiopians.

The petitioners are known as Falash Mura, Ethiopians who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago but who now seek to return to Judaism and immigrate to Israel. They have been accepted to Israel under different rules than those governing other immigrants.

The Israeli government has declared an official end to mass Ethiopian immigration several times. Each time, however, aliyah from Ethiopia resumed after pressure by advocates.

In August 2008, for example, the Israeli government declared mass Ethiopian immigration over only to reverse course several months later and agree to check the aliyah eligibility of 3,000 additional Ethiopians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in May 2009 that those would be the last Ethiopians to be checked en masse, but that decision was reversed in 2010, opening the door for this latest group of immigrants.

Under his implementation of the government’s 2010 decision, Seyum said, more than 6,500 Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel.

The first mass immigration wave of Ethiopian Jews took place in Operation Moses in late 1984 and early 1985, when Israel brought 6,500 Ethiopians Jews to the country.

After rebels in Ethiopia took over the capital city Addis Abba in 1991 and threatened the stability of the entire country, Israel and private groups carried out the secret Operation Solomon mission that brought more than 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel on 34 El Al flights.

The operation continued into the Sabbath, with the permission of the Chief Rabbinate based on the Jewish law that “pikuach nefesh,” saving a life, takes precedence over the laws of the Sabbath that had to be suspended for the maneuvers.

An Epic Ethiopian Aliyah Story

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Asher Tagai journeyed to Israel from Ethiopia and his ordeal coming to the Holy Land is truly inspiring. Asher Tagai was born an Ethiopian Jew and has lived a hard life. In the 1980’s, the Ethiopian regime was biased against Jews and Israel and countless Ethiopian Jews were imprisoned by the government based on the fabricated charge of being a Zionist spy. Asher recounted that he was sent to jail by Ethiopian authorities on fraudulent charges, resulting in his subsequent recognition as a prisoner of Zion. In some areas of the country, Judaism was even illegal and Jews were forcefully converted to Christianity. According to Asher, “many Jews preferred to commit suicide over becoming Christian.”

Asher claims that between 1979 and 1984, many Ethiopian Jews sought to escape these conditions by making Aliyah to Israel. They left behind an ancient history and rich cultural heritage. Due to the fact that he was serving time in jail Asher was part of one of the later waves of the Ethiopian Jewish exodus to Israel. He said that he prayed to G-d a lot during this period of time to be set free, so that he would be able to come to Israel with his family. However, it was very dangerous to make Aliyah to Israel during this period of time. According to Asher, “anyone who was caught” making Aliyah to Israel “was given the death penalty.” 

Asher claims that what the Ethiopian Jewish community experienced was very similar to the exodus story in ancient times. He explained, “In one day, we packed up all of our stuff and if you couldn’t, you just left it. There was a lot of uncertainty. You could never know what happened from one day to the next.” Asher claimed that Ethiopian Jewish families were separated from each other during their voyage. He explained, “They went by non-Jewish guidance to Sudan during the night and hid during the day. There was a lot of robbery, thieves, rape, murder; every thing bad that you could imagine, along the way.”

As bad as the situation was in Ethiopia, Asher said that the situation got even worse when the Ethiopian Jews arrived in Sudan. In Sudan, members of the Ethiopian Jewish community were forced to live in horrific conditions in special camps. According to Asher, Ethiopian Jewish families with pregnant women and very small children “were sleeping in tents” in extremely hot weather. “It was like living in an oven,” he explained. Furthermore, “The food and water they got from Red Cross was in a bad condition and they got sick. Some died. At least 5 to 6 people per family died,” Asher stated, “You went to sleep and didn’t know if the person next you will get up.”

Asher was traumatized by the ordeal and still suffers from nightmares to this day. He claimed, “There were 19 bodies on the same day surrounding me and sick people had to make graves with their bare hands, even though they were sick. My sister delivered a son who died and she also got sick. She wanted to go back to Ethiopia to see her father and then died. Only her daughter survived.”

Asher finally managed to make Aliyah to Israel and upon arrival within the country, he kissed the ground. Today, he is living and working in Israel, has a family, makes sure to volunteer with the Ethiopian Jewish community and also helps other Ethiopian Jews make Aliyah to Israel so that they can be given the same opportunities that he was. When he was in prison in Ethiopia, Asher promised G-d that he would give back to the community if given the chance to make Aliyah with his family and he has kept his word regarding that. He concluded, “I suffered a lot in Ethiopia. Making Aliyah was like coming back to life. Everyday I thank God for being in Israel.”

Visit United with Israel.

Obama to Dine with Miss Israel

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Ethiopian-born Miss Israel, who was crowned only two weeks ago, will dine with President Barack Obama at President Shimon Peres’ official residence next week, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

Obama’s staff invited Miss Israel, otherwise known as Yityish Aynaw, who also was an officer in the IDF.

The appearance of a black Jewess, from Africa no less, dining with the first black American president, who has roots in Kenya, is a PR dream for Israel, which finally will get enthusiastically positive media coverage.

Aynaw will also have plenty of good copy for the herds of journalists who will be covering President Obama’s three-day visit.

Her relatives in Israel brought her from Ethiopia when she was 12 years old.

The Ethiopian community has suffered prejudice in Israel, particularly but not only from Russian Jews, whose culture and tradition are the antithesis of that of Ethiopians.

Like many Ethiopians, whose Jewish beliefs are deep-rooted, she was told that milk comes out of faucets and gold coins are in the streets of Israel.

After being named Miss Israel at the age of 21, she said that Martin Luther King Jr. was one of her heroes because “he fought for justice and equality, and… I want to show that my community has many beautiful qualities that aren’t always represented in the media.”

Correct politics probably had a part in her winning the beauty competition. Former Miss Israel winners have included a Russian immigrant and an Arab. Pageant director Iris Cohen told the Tablet, “I think she was not the most beautiful, by classic beauty, [but] she stands on the stage and you cannot ignore her.”

Now decked out in dresses far more fancy than the ones she sold in a store, she speaks her mind.

Unlike previous foreign-born pageant winners and many new immigrants from Ethiopia who adopted Hebrew names, she told Tablet, “I was born sick, but my mom believed I had a future,” and she explained that Yityish is Amharic for “look,” or as Aynaw explains, “looking toward the future.”

“I’d never change my name,” said Aynaw. “Ever.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/obama-to-dine-with-miss-israel/2013/03/13/

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