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The plight of Ethiopian Jews in Israel

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The story of the immigration and absorption of Ethiopian Jews in Israel epitomises the best and the worst of Israeli society.
True to its Zionist dream of being a haven for Jews, the Jewish state embarked on risky and expensive rescue operations in the 1980s and 1990s.
israel ethiopian Jaws
These brought tens of thousands of Jews from remote parts of Ethiopia, who had suffered from religious persecution, famine and civil wars.
Yet, when they arrived in Israel, these distinctive people faced appalling discrimination, racism and a lack of empathy for their hardships in Ethiopia and during their journey to Israel.
Moreover, this was exacerbated by a mixture of bureaucratic insensitivity and incompetence.
The uncharacteristic violence, seen recently during demonstrations by members of the Ethiopian community in Israel, was a direct result of years of accumulated frustration against the state and especially the police.
The unprovoked beating up by policemen of Demas Fekadeh, an Ethiopian Israeli soldier in uniform, could well serve as a much necessary wake-up call for Israeli society to change, quickly and radically, its treatment of the 130,000 Israeli citizens and their descendants who immigrated from Ethiopia.
Who are the Ethiopian Jews?
The main challenge in tracing the origins of a Jewish presence in Ethiopia is the lack of reliable accounts.
Consequently there are several versions regarding the origins of the Ethiopian Jews or, as they are historically known, Beta Israel (House of Israel).
One school of thought claims that Ethiopian Jews are descendants of the lost Hebrew Dan tribe.
An alternative explanation asserts that the Beta Israel community may be the descendants of the entourage that accompanied Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba.
Finally, leaders from within the community argue that Ethiopian Jews are descendants of Jews who left the conquered Kingdom of Judah for Egypt following the destruction of the First Temple in 586BC.
For centuries, until the 20th Century, Ethiopian Jews were completely isolated from Jewish communities in other parts of the world. Yet, they adhered to biblical Judaism for many centuries.
Source: BBC

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