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Rescue of Falashas Linked to Success or Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy

Rep. Tom Lantos (D. Calif.) linked the rescue of Ethiopian Jews to the success or failure of U.S. foreign policy worldwide. It would be “naive” to believe that Ethiopian Jewry can be helped if U.S. foreign policy fails in other areas, Lantos told more than 200 persons attending a luncheon during the First National Conference on Ethiopian Jewry of the American Association of Ethiopian Jewry (AAEJ) here yesterday.

“The fate of our Ethiopian brothers and sisters, in the final analysis, is tied to the success or failure of the U.S. in the global arena,” Lantos maintained. He mentioned Lebanon as a case in point, warning that failure of U.S. policy in Lebanon would lead to the failure of U.S. policy elsewhere, including Ethiopia. In that connection he stressed the need for the U.S. to remain in Lebanon despite pressures to pull its troops out.

Referring to the plight of the Falashas — Ethiopian Jews — Lantos declared that his experience as a Jew in Hungary during World War II heightened his concern to see that the fate of Ethiopian Jewry, is not ignored.

“I know what it means to have the silence and the non-action of those who would be able to speak out and act forcefully and courageously and effectively, only to see them avert their eyes,” the California Congressman said. He pledged to see to it that Congress keeps the issue before the American people and the world.

The two-day conference here included a discussion of the condition of Jews in Ethiopia and how they are being absorbed in Israel. Several Falashas appeared at the conference to relate their personal experiences. At the luncheon, one Ethiopian Jew, introduced as “Menachem”, a pseudonym used to protect members of his family in Ethiopia, said he fled that country only three months ago.

He said life there for Jews was “miserable”. Jews could not practice their religion and were unable to make a living, he said. He reported that because of conditions in Ethiopia, the Falashas were being split and scattered all over the country.

Dr. Graenum Berger, founder and a former president of the AAEJ, presented the group’s first award for “heroism in the rescue of Ethiopian Jewry” to Henry and Mildred Rosenberg of New York. He said they were the first couple to involve themselves seriously in trying to get Jews out of Ethiopia. The group, whose current president is Nathan Shapiro, will conclude the conference today with visits to Senators and members of the House.

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