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The Only Africans Israel Is Ready to ‘Save’

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Ethiopian citizens demonstrate in Jerusalem in request to bring their relatives from Ethiopia to Israel, in August.
Ethiopian citizens demonstrate in Jerusalem in request to bring their relatives from Ethiopia to Israel, in August. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

About once a week a drama unfolds here that is worthy of the late satirist Ephraim Kishon. There’s not one aspect of this story that’s not a farce. Israel last year smuggled 61 people out of Ethiopia in a heroic operation that put lives and Israel’s ties with Ethiopia at risk. It did so because it thought the lives of these people were in danger and they were of “the seed of Israel.”

Recently it turned out that they do not have Jewish roots, their lives were not in danger, and most of them were brought to Israel at the request of an Israeli businessman who came from Ethiopia in 1996. Among them was the man’s Christian ex-wife, his children, people who claimed to be his children, and people who worked for him in Ethiopia.

Now Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata has demanded to bring in another 800 Ethiopians whose Jewish roots are dubious. She is threatening to bring down the government if her demand is not met. The National Security Council staunchly opposes this because bringing them to Israel would constitute a “precedent-setting demographic mistake, needless and dangerous.”

Those are the facts. Now comes the farce. The new infiltrators from Ethiopia, who came here fraudulently, will not be deported, as opposed to foreign workers and refugees, who were not part of a conspiracy against Israel. Israel, the post-Holocaust paragon of morality, doesn’t care about Africans suffering from civil war in their countries, whose lives really are in danger.

Although Israel arose from the ashes of the Holocaust, it rejoices in expelling Africans like these back to Africa, people who live and work in Israel, whose children are already Israeli for all intents and purposes. Israel shows zero compassion for them, only cruelty.

Yet it is prepared to endanger its soldiers and its diplomatic ties to smuggle in 61 Africans whom it believes have Jewish relatives somewhere in the distant past, in remote branches of their family tree. This is pure racism. These weak (and imaginary) Jewish roots are even given a perfect racist name, “seed of Israel.”

The impression is that the businessman responsible for bringing the 61 people here, Saraka Siom, didn’t have to work very hard to persuade the government, the Mossad and other agencies to carry out this operation. They simply didn’t bother to check the data.

They know the family tree of every junior electrician in Natanz, Iran, but the moment they hear “seed of Israel” – they lose it, and act out of blindness and conditioned reflex.

Anything in the name of some “shared destiny” of the Jewish people, most of whom are fake anyhow, and the rewriting of history for internal Israeli propaganda purposes (the Jews of the United States and Latin America enjoyed life while the Jews of Europe were being decimated, and the Jews of the world went on with their lives while the Jews of Spain were being exiled).

And the demand to bring to Israel hundreds of people of the “seed of Israel” is rejected for purely racist reasons (“a precedent-setting demographic mistake…and dangerous”), and might yet bring down the government of Israel. The composer Ali Mohar once had a column in the Hebrew language magazine “Ba’ir,” called “Goings-on in our town.” Welcome to the column “Goings on in the state of the Jews.”

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