NEW YORK (Aug. 28)
Eleven members of the Concerned Jewish Youth (CJY) and the American Association for Ethiopian Jews forced their way into the offices of the New York director of the American Red Cross here today, to explain the plight of Ethiopia’s Falasha Jews and to urge officials of the Red Cross to take action on their behalf.
CJY co-chairman Stuart Wax, in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, said that the two groups focused on the American Red Cross because it has the political “power to do something “for the Falashas, whereas the International Red Cross and various Jewish organizations have been ineffective.
The Falashas, or “Black Jews” of Ethiopia, have been the victims of genocide and other atrocities following the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and the subsequent revolution of 1976. The Falashas, who now number 28,000 from 250,000 in 1975, are working with the Jewish Agency in Israel for a mass aliya of their people, Zacharias Yona, a spokesman for the Falashas told JTA in an interview earlier this year.
Barnet Deutch, the director of the New York American Red Cross, responded to the group’s demand for an airlift by the Red Cross by saying “No way can the Red Cross, in any part of the world take planes into another country. Realistically, a great deal of this. (airlift and rescue work) must be done through hard negotiated efforts. “Barnet, however, did promise to “check into the matter thoroughly.”
In the presence of the protesters, Barnet called American Red Cross headquarters in Washington and was notified by them that the Red Cross Currently had seven delegates in Ethiopia to over see medical, food, blood and other rescue and emergency efforts sponsored by the Red Cross for all Ethiopian refugees. Barnet told the group that the “Red Crass in the U.S. is concerned with this problem” and that he will go to the national headquarters to present the group’s concern.
RED CROSS OFFICIAL PROMISES ACTION
Lenny Spector, a co-chairman of CJY, called the International Red Cross “morally bankrupt” in its failure to recognize the Israeli Red Mogen David as a legitimate affiliate of the international organization. Barnet conceded that this was so and that many of the anti-Israeli “emerging nations” who vote on International Red Cross membership were responsible for blocking the Israeli group’s admission.
The group concluded their meeting with Barnet by lighting yahrzeit candles and reciting a memorial service for Falashas who perished in Ethiopia’s political upheavals.
The CJY is Herut affiliated and has offices on many college campuses throughout the New York area and in major American cities. The Americans for Ethiopian Jews works closely with the National Jewish Student Network and has 200 members across the nation, according to Yehudah Shapiro, a board of directors member.