Mk Presents Somber Picture of Falashas

The condition of the Jews in Ethiopia (Falashas) is “very hard,” according to Knesset member Dror Zeigerman (Likud-Liberals) who returned Saturday night from a 10-day visit to Ethiopia together with a group from the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS).

Zeigerman went into Ethiopia on an Israeli passpost. He said the economic situation of the Falashas was bad. There were conditions of famine in Ethiopia and the Falashas were affected by it, Zeigerman said. Moreover, he added, their condition was worse than that of other groups because they “suffer from anti-Semitism” they are not permitted to learn Hebrew, their synagogues are closed … world Jewry should fight for their right to leave.” Zeigerman said the Falashas wanted to leave. “This was their message to us,” he said.

His report — he will deliver a full account to the World Zionist Executive this week — differed sharply from that of a group of four Israelis who recently visited Ethiopia and told reporters here last week, at a press conference sponsored by the World Jewish Congress-Israel Bureau, that the Falashas were no worse off than other sections of the Ethiopian population. That group, whose visit to Ethiopia was arranged by the WJCongress, asserted specifically that there was no famine, that synagogues had been reopened and that there was no institutionalized anti-Semitism. (See January 21 Bulletin.)

Both visits came in response to a Reuter news agency report last month which in effect conveyed an invitation from Ethiopian authorities to Israelis to view the Falasha situation at first hand.

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