JERUSALEM (Dec. 28)
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Ethiopian Jews known as Falashas have been killed there as a result of the violent upheavals in their strife-torn country, according to a report in today’s Davar based on Falasha sources in Israel and the United States.
The worst carnage among the Falashas, the report stated, took place in the revolution against Emperor Haile Selassie two years ago. Radical tribes from the southern Sudan regarded the Falashas as pro-Royalists, and treated them accordingly. At the same time, government forces fighting the revolutionaries in the vicinity of Falasha villages spread death among them.
The Davar sources said that during these sad and bloody events Falashas had been subjected to rape, pillage and torture; young Falasha girls had been sold into slavery. According to the sources, the wholesale killings had stopped under the new leftist regime, but the Falashas were being treated as “a hostile minority.”
Some of the Falasha activists here and in the U.S. accuse the Israeli authorities of having failed to spur their aliya when it was still possible to do so. There has been a great deal of academic discussion over the years as to the true origins of the Falashas and their “Jewishness.” But both of Israel’s present Chief Rabbis, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, have ruled that they are proper Jews but should, nevertheless, undergo a symbolic conversion ceremony.
SAYS FALASHAS FACE EXTERMINATION
(In a recent interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in New York, Dr. Graenum Berger, founder and immediate past president of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews, told staff correspondent Rochelle Saidel Wolk that the 28,000 Falashas “are facing extermination because of the indifference of the Jewish world. This is true for Israel and the Jewish Agency, and strangely, it is also true for the American Jewish leadership, which has always been concerned with the plight of Black non-Jews.”
(Continuing, Berger told Wolk: “In the last few years, Israel has officially declared that Ethiopian Jews are eligible to settle under the Law of Return. Yet no effort was made to bring them to Israel after 1948, and after formal diplomatic relations were initiated between Israel and Ethiopia in 1956, no schlichim were sent to recruit and prepare them for aliya.” Nevertheless, some 300 Falashas have managed to get to Israel, he added.
(Meanwhile, “the Ethiopian Jews who live in the northwestern sector of this underdeveloped country are trapped in a pincer of contending armies, in a situation similar to that of the Jews of Poland during World War II,” Berger said. “Not permitted to own their own land, they live in squalor as tenant farmers. Thousands have been dispossessed from their native land. Reports state that some have been killed, some sold into slavery and some left to rot in refugee camps in places like Sudan and Djibouti.”
(The future of the Falasha in Ethiopia “is hopeless,” Berger stated to Wolk. “They wait for Israel and world Jewry to rescue them with “wings of eagles” as the Yemenite Jews were rescued in 1948.”)