JERUSALEM (Aug. 3)
The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that 45 members of the Black Hebrew sect living on expired visas in Israel be deported in April.
The decision last Wednesday came after Jacques Amir. Mayor of Dimona, where an estimated 1,500 Black Hebrews have settled, voiced his frustration over government inaction on the Black Hebrews’ presence.
The lawyer for the Black Hebrews, Mark Levy, declared that the government’s policy was to eliminate the sect. But Interior Ministry spokesman Yitzhak Agassi reportedly said the country’s policy is simply to expel all illegal aliens.
Earlier last week, Israeli police arrested three sect members on their way to surrender their American passports to the U.S. Consulate. This is a common tactic used by the sect to become stateless and increase pressure on the Israeli government to allow them to stay.
Amir said the Black Hebrews had established a “state within a state” in the past two decades and they abide by their own laws, including polygamy, and reject Jewish State institutions.
The 45 Black Hebrews ordered deported were arrested last April and charged with working in citrus groves without permits and remaining in Israel with expired visas.
The Black Hebrews are a Chicago-based sect claiming to be descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel in Africa. But the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the Black Hebrews were not Jews and thus could not become Israeli citizens under the Law of Return.
The sect leader, a former Chicago bus driver, Ben Ami Carter, who calls himself the Prince of Peace, directs the group from Dimona. They live communally in the U.S. Liberia and Israel.
The sect preaches that Blacks are oppressed in America and promises salvation in Israel. Before moving to Israel though, the members usually spend two years in Liberia which they liken to the 40 years of wandering in the desert of Biblical times.
Earlier this year, Israel turned away 26 Black Hebrews who sought to enter the country as tourists. The Israelis said they really intended to join the sect in Dimona and stay in the country illegally.