Archive for the ‘Ethiopian Jews’ Category

‘Israel doesn’t want Ethiopians’ – Israel National News – Arutz Sheva

Immigration and Absorption Commitee Head MK Avraham Negusa (Likud) led a delegation of MKs to Ethiopia.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Negusa said he discovered “a shameful sight” of thousands of Jews held up by various excuses, and who are not being allowed to immigrate to Israel even though the Israeli government approved their immigration.

“It’s sad to see so many Jews who should have come to Israel but are instead living their lives in a foreign country,” Negusa said. “Despite the government’s decision to bring 9000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, only 83 were brought. We’ve heard a lot of excuses, and we wanted to see for ourselves what is happening. We arrived in Ethiopia in order to supervise the execution of the israeli government’s decision, and to find out what’s holding it up.

“We arrived on Thursday – and the Interior Ministry in Gondar only started working on the Monday prior to our arrival. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, they haven’t even started working towards helping these people make aliya (immigrate to Israel). The Interior Ministry said the Israeli consulate had not given them the necessary space. We spoke to the consulate, and they showed us the rooms they had set aside. They’re constantly making excuses not to bring our brothers to Israel.

“It cannot be that the Israeli government does not fulfill its promises or execute its decisions. If the government does not respect its own decisions, we have a huge problem. If, in a democratic country, we ignore our own decisions – then we have a big problem.

“As MKs, we need to supervise the execution of the government’s decisions. We return to Israel disappointed, angry, and bitter. The Ethiopian Jewish community is in dire straits. Hundreds are dying in Addis Ababa and Gondar.

“We will unite the Knesset, including the opposition, and we will pressure the Israeli government to bring our brothers home. It’s time to end the discrimination.

“All the Jews of the world immigrate to Israel and are accepted with flowers and parties – but Ethiopian Jews are not wanted here.”

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‘Israel doesn’t want Ethiopians’ – Israel National News – Arutz Sheva

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Building Bridges Between the Black Church and the Israeli People – Patheos (blog)

By Eliana Rudee

On a chilly Friday morning in Jerusalem, 14 American Baptist leaders filed into Colel Chabads Pantry Packers packing plant, ready to prepare food for Israels underprivileged. Despite the cold, Michael Seiler, Manager of Liaison Services with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), volunteered his Friday morning to brief the Baptist leaders, promising that this activity would warm everyones hearts.

Indeed, hearts were warmed and bridges were built during the groups weeklong tour around Israel, from February 13-20. For most, this tour represented their first time in Israel, and nearly everyone cited their great excitement about touring the land they invoke daily in Bible passages and having the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked.

The group, part of The Fellowship, learned about historic bonds between the Christian and Jewish people through visits to Christian and Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall, the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, Masada, Caesarea, Muhraka (Horn of Carmel), and Meggido. They also made a special visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

Reverend Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., from Lake Charles Louisiana, led the group. His goal was to bring back to his community the value in doing what we have been called to do by God, namely, being a blessing to Israel through missions to Israel. He noted that African American churches are passing up a lot of opportunities to be blessed, citing Genesis 12:1-3: I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.

In addition to citing religious reasons to support Israel, many Baptist leaders appeal to historical ties between Jews and the African American community, citing that Jews were there for them when they needed it during the civil rights movement, and now Jews need their solidarity. They hope to extend solidarity between the two groups by renewing the historical relationship from the 1960s, when Jews marched (two of them killed) in the Selma Civil Rights March with Martin Luther King Jr.

Upon returning home, Reverent Tolbert said that he was especially grateful to strengthen our connection to the Israeli people and most importantly, to G-d.

I will not go home and preach the same, said Earlene Coleman, a Pastor at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, representing the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention.

Indeed, many of them go back home to preach about build bridges with Israel and the Jewish community. The participants are given educational material on Israel and the Jewish roots of Christianity, which is often passed to their church members. Some begin hosting special prayer services on Israels Day of Independence or invite a Rabbi to their congregation for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Others even bring thousands of their members on annual tours of Israel with their congregations.

They are also encouraged to adopt projects related to bridge building. Recent tour alumni have sponsored vocational trainings and soup kitchens for under-privileged Israelis, sponsored meals for Holocaust survivors, and renovated a bomb shelter. One early-stage project hopes to bring an Israeli-developed post-trauma program to the inner cities of African American communities for children who have encountered violence and drug-related crimes.

Pastor Colemans colleague with the Lott Carey Foreign Mission, Derick Brennan, is Pastor of the Canaan Baptist Church of Philadelphia. His takeaway of the week was the great benefit of building mutually beneficial partnerships between Jews and Christians. We overlook the power of synergy. Once you go below the surface, [you realize] we have the same goals and objectives. You can get so much more done as partners than as individual entities, he said. He also highlighted the importance of knowledge and coming to Israel, rather than taking for granted the narratives that are often driven by the media.

Indeed, the media has often swayed the African American communitys support and understanding or lack thereof of the Jewish State. Several months ago, the Movement for Black Lives coalition released a statement that called for ending U.S. military aid to Israel, using apartheid language with a link to a website promoting the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel.

Additionally, this month, Seattle Seahawks defensive end and outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter, Michael Bennett, announced that he will no longer be joining an NFL delegation to Israel, after feeling used, and citing a Times of Israel article in which Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan was quoted as saying that the visit would host influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in hopes of them becoming ambassadors of good will for Israel.

Reverend Tolbert, however, viewed being an ambassador of goodwill in Israel as an entirely positive thing, especially in its ability to uplift the African American community through building partnerships with the African Israeli community. Declaring his intentions to take on a project that will offer a platform for continued connection to Israel, he expects to organize a program related to the Ethiopian Jewish community of Israel, which he believes would boost the African American community who are largely unaware of the existence of the large population of African Jews in Israel.

By the end of their week-long visit, whether physically contributing to Israel through packing food, or vowing to financially contributing to support the Ethiopian community of Israel, all 14 Baptist leaders certainly blessed Israel, and in turn, went home blessed and ready to preach to their congregation messages of partnership with Israel and the Jewish community.

Eliana Rudee is a fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Her bylines have been featured in USA Today, New York Daily News, Forbes, and The Hill.

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Senate Urges WH Action On JCC Threats; Christians Launch Pro-Israel TV; Jewish-Gypsy Cooperation In Hungary – Jewish Week

Senate urges White House action on JCC threats

In a rare display of bipartisanship, every member of the Senate yesterday signed an open letter to the Trump administration demanding that the White House take action to address the ongoing surge in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country.

According to the Times of Israel, the letter, will be sent to the heads of multiple government agencies, came amidst a sixth wave of bomb threats to Jewish community centers across North America, as well as several offices of the Anti-Defamation League.

These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states, the 100 senators said in their appeal.

Jewish-Gypsy cooperation in Hungary

Members of Hungarys minority Jewish and Roma (Gypsy) communities are finding common ground at an avant-garde Jewish community center in Budapest.

The Aurora center, located in a poor neighborhood of the capital, has in the last three years become one of the citys hippest coffee bars and a major hub for social and opposition activists fighting the policies of Hungarys right-wing government, JTA reports.

The Jewish-Roma partnership at Aurora is unusual in a country where the two minorities rarely act in unison, according to Eszter Hajdu, a Hungarian filmmaker who has studied that relationship.

French Jewish historian acquitted on anti-Arab charge

A French court yesterday acquitted Jewish historian Georges Bensoussan of hate speech charges over his assertion that Arabs receive anti-Semitism with their mothers milk, JTA reports.

Georges Bensoussan. Wikipedia

The decision of 17thCriminal Tribunal of Paris ended a polarizing trial that observersregardedas a significant test case for determining the boundaries of academic freedom amid growing inter-ethnic tensions.

Bensoussan, a scholar on the Holocaust and one of the worlds leading historians on Jewish communities in Arab territories, was put ontrialin December after a Muslim lobby group and a French human rights organization that was founded by Jews in the 1920s initiated a criminal lawsuit against him for the statement he made during an interview for a radio station in 2012.

Christians launch pro-Israel TV series

A partnership of Christians groups has created a series called Why Israel Matters to set the record straight on Israel and the Jewish state, the Jerusalem Post reports.Christians in Defense of Israel, Liberty Counsel and the Trinity Broadcasting Network produced the 13-part original series that demonstrates the crucial importance of the Jewish state to Christians, to the United States and to the world in general.

The second episode aired yesterday.

Are charedi Israelis joining the Start-Up Nation?

A start-up fair geared to men and women in Israels charedi community drew a large crowd last week at the Bank Leumi building in Tel Aviv, the latest sign of a growing entrepreneurial bent in fervently Orthodox circles, the Times of Israel reports.

The second annual event was organized by KamaTech,a nonprofit organization and startup accelerator, which aims to integrate Haredi men and women into Israels high-tech industry, according to the Times.

This yearly event is a peak of our activity, to show what they are doing, Moshe Friedman, the co-founder of KamaTech, said. The quality of companies is better this time round, with more mature technologies and better business oriented.

Kosher a big draw for non-Jewish shoppers

Bonnie Taub-Dix, an author and nutritional consultant, tells consumers in U.S. News that a kosher label on a product indicates health benefits for consumers, even if they are not interested in the products spiritual advantages.

Apparently, plenty of folks of all religions are gravitating toward the label, she writes. According to areportciting data from the market research firm Mintel, kosher was the top label claim on new foods and beverages launched in 2014, with 41 percent of such products donning the tag consumers seem to believe kosher items are safer, since they are produced under stricter supervision than the basic food supply, which is overseen by government inspection.

Taub-Dix cites the certainty of religious-inspired standards that will not change, the knowledge that items marked pareve contain no meat or dairy ingredients, and the absence of colorants derived from insects, even though such additives may be considered natural in other products.

Former President George H.W. Bush arrives for the coin toss prior to Super Bowl 51 between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images

President Bush honored for role in Ethiopian airlift

A Houston foundation that fights anti-Semitism will today honor former President George H.W. Bush for supporting several humanitarian causes, notably the secret emigration of Ethiopian Jews, KPRC TV in Houston reports.

According to the television station, Bush and his wife Barbara are to receive the annual Mensch Award from the Hungarian-based Mensch International Foundation, which was founded by philanthropist Steven Geiger to develop an educational curriculum to stamp-out stereotyping and anti-Semitic and racist thinking

Bush played an active role in secret airlifts of Ethiopias threatened Jewish community in 1984 and 1991.

Iran blocks Israeli-developed Waza app

Iran has temporary blocked access to Waze, a GPS-based geographical navigation application due to its Israeli background, according to the Trend News Agency, the biggest private news company inAzerbaijan, the Caucasus region andCentral Asia.

Access to the app was blocked in recent days, and the Iranian Committee for Determining Offensive Contents is to meet today to discuss the permanent ban of the access to Waze.

Waze, formerly FreeMap Israel was first developed and popularized by the Israeli company Waze Mobile.

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Senate Urges WH Action On JCC Threats; Christians Launch Pro-Israel TV; Jewish-Gypsy Cooperation In Hungary – Jewish Week

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Give resistance wings: opposing the whitewashing of Israel’s racism and anti-blackness – The Daily Vox (blog)

International Israeli Apartheid Week is once again upon us, and civil society organisations around the world are displaying solidarity with the Palestinian people, who struggle against an apartheid system of occupation, systematic discrimination and segregation enforced by Israel.

True to form, Israels apologists have tapped a reservoir of reactionary energy, making peace the enemy of justice and vacuously deploying platitudes in a quest to pacify. This year, at the centre of their campaign to whitewash ethnic cleansing and apartheid, sits a single, spurious claim the Zionist state is a multi-ethnic democracy that cherishes diversity. A touch of melanin is on display, aiming to drown out the evidence of institutionalised racism.

Israel has black friends, how could it possibly be racist?

As a rule of thumb, those who feel the need to repeatedly declare that theyre not at all racist those who scramble to point at the black friend are ordinarily seeking to obscure the realities of structural racism. It is a worn tactic, deployed by those who are unwilling to engage the racial injustices in which they may be complicit. It is also a disingenuous indulgence in identity politics, grounded in the misplaced belief that having a person of colour speak in your favour is enough to dismiss allegations of racism.

In the instance of Israeli apologetics, the case is unambiguous and damning. The Israeli state imposes upon the people of Palestine a system of apartheid a system of racial and ethnic categorisation, segregation, and discrimination that is enforced through brutal military occupation. This is not merely the opinion of the Palestinian solidarity movement, but is the conclusion reached by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Apartheid is a crime against humanity, and sits at the apex of institutionalised racism. No number of glossy posters and misappropriated Madiba murals can erase this.

Beyond Israels institutionalised racism towards Palestinians, however, the Africans for Israel line is both ludicrous and insulting because it is an erasure of the material realities faced by Africans (most of whom are African Jews) living within Israel, who struggle daily with the anti-blackness of the Israeli state (and indeed Israeli society, too). Over the past five years, there has been a wave of demonstrations by Mizrahi Jews who dont originate from Europe, as Ashkenazi Jews do, but in the Middle East and North Africa from African countries like Eritrea and Ethiopia.

In mid-2016, Ethiopian Jews took to the streets with a list of grievances that included unjust incarceration, deportation, police brutality, the perpetuation of separate educational and housing streams for Ethiopian Israelis, and the coerced sterilisation of Ethiopian migrants as a means of demographic control. The Eurocentric identity of the Israeli state, coupled with the ethno-nationalist, settler colonial ideology of Zionism, has resulted in the systematic desecration of rights for those citizens of Israel who originate in the continent that knows the price of colonialism all too well. Many African migrants to Israel, as well as progressive Jews of colour, hold that Israeli state and society, both explicitly and implicitly, back a form of European Ashkenazi Judaism which is exclusionary towards the diversity of Jews around the world. They are also frustrated by the unwillingness of Israeli society to even acknowledge their struggle.

These frustrations are shared by many among South Africas dispossessed black majority. There is a common thread that runs through the discourses of racism denial in South Africa, as well as Zionist apologetics surrounding the Israeli state. The white whine that weve been forced to sample again and again during protests for free education is brought out in barrels when the largely privileged caucus of white, Zionist South Africans assemble to try and impede progressive internationalism. We witness the same unwillingness to come to terms with the manner in which historical injustices influence present realities. Yesterday, it was apartheid at home, today it is the Nakba in Palestine their cry is the same: Its in the past, get over it.

The reactionary faction that appeases, and even perpetrates injustice has a long history of globalism. Oceans and deserts did not stand in the way of the European project of colonial land theft. Today, that globalism remains alive. We see it in police exchange programmes between Israel and cities in the US, where persistent police brutality and anti-blackness birthed the movement for black lives. And we see it in the groups of apartheid beneficiaries whove linked hands in their refusal to see race (or more accurately, to see racism).

Tactics to crush protest and harass vulnerable communities are being shared by oppressive state actors, and we are witnessing the globalisation of authoritarianism. We are also witnessing the accelerating globalisation of the tactics of unseeing and erasure that serve to appease it.

In response, I echo writers Arundhati Roy and Angela Davis, and appeal for us to rapidly, urgently, globalise dissent. At a time when fascists have seized the reins of power in some of the worlds most powerful nations when ultra-nationalists like Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump are finding common ground in a taste for hyper-masculine militarism and in an obsession with erecting walls, it is necessary for us to reiterate our commitment to progressive internationalism.

Now more than ever, it is necessary for us to give resistance wings.

Raees Noorbhai is a student activist, writer and researcher, currently studying astrophysics at Wits. He is also the chairperson of the Wits Chapter of Amnesty International.

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Give resistance wings: opposing the whitewashing of Israel’s racism and anti-blackness – The Daily Vox (blog)

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A direct connection for a Holy Land education – Jewish Journal

Aviv Mussali believes theres one surefire way to effectively teach American Jews about the Holy Land while they are at camp: introduce them to native Israelis like him.

Bringing Israeli education to camp cant be done better than bringing Israelis to camp to do that, said Mussali, who became a senior scout at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu in the summer of 2009. Israelis come with passion for education, especially after finishing the army. They have seen the conflicts, and they have lived through rough times. Speaking about their stories, and even just being there as friends, is a great tool.

His role at camp involved hosting Israeli activities, integrating costumes and props from the country and rewarding campers with Hebrew T-shirts. Mussali had such a great experience that he went on to serve two more summers there, leading its Israel Day and giving a weekly update on events in the Jewish state.

This approach to Israel education is by no means unique among local Jewish overnight camps, many of which offer special programming, hire Israeli staff members and integrate Israeli education into regular activities.

For example, this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, and Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles summer camp in Running Springs will be commemorating it with special art, dance, music and cooking programs. It will focus on the traditions of the different ethnicities Russian, Ethiopian and American that have immigrated to Israel.

According to Executive Director Menachem Hecht, this program will be a really integrated, immersive, holistic educational experience. It brings to life our heritage and our relationship to Israel.

A number of the Bnei Akiva staff members are Israeli, flying in to work for the summer. Often, when campers or staff go to Israel to visit or study, this helps provide them with a social network there and a place to spend Shabbat, he said.

At the Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps (WBTC) in Malibu Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp staff from Israel teach attendees about their country and serve as role models. Campers who are at least sophomores in high school also have the opportunity to go to Israel for four weeks with WBTC and the North American Federation of Temple Youth, according to the WBTC website.

Bringing Israeli education to camp cant be done better than bringing Israelis to camp to do that. -Aviv Mussali

Camp Ramah in California in Ojai is another camp that offers opportunities to learn about Israel by actually going there. It sends campers to the Holy Land through the Ramah Israel Seminar, a six-week exploration and study trip for former Ramah campers entering the 12th grade.

According to Rabbi Joe Menashe, executive director of the camp, there are currently 12 campers on a semester-long program in Israel called Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY). Students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades go to Israel to learn secular and religious studies, participate in simulated army training and do community service.

These campers may be inspired to travel because of the 30 Israeli emissaries who work there every summer. Ariella Moss Peterseil, an Israeli who is associate director of Camp Ramah, started out at Camp Ramah in Canada in 2000 right after she finished her army training.

She said that in Ojai, the camp has a Yom Israel (Israel Day) each session thats run by the Israeli educators: They choose a topic and the campers and staff have an experiential day all around camp, which includes food, music, educational programming, dress up, ceremonies, activities, debates and sometimes social action for a cause in Israel.

Peterseil emphasized that in order to gain a real education on and relationship with the Holy Land, campers need direct contact with Israelis.

Our kids cannot have a positive connection or real knowledge about this place we call home unless they get to have real hands-on experiences and relationships with Israelis, she said. We achieve this by bringing a group of 30 young Israelis every summer and believe that the friendships and relationships are the most important part of the shlichut [mission].

During the weeks that Camp Alonim in Simi Valley is in session each summer, campers there also have the chance to interact with Israeli staff members. According to Executive Director Josh Levine, the camp has an extensive Israeli folk dancing program, and kids are taught how to broadcast Israeli music over their camp radio station. An Israeli song plays as a signal to campers that its time to clean their bunks.

Levine said its important that the campers gain an Israeli education because the country is a major fact of Jewish life today, not only for Israelis but also for Americans.

We want campers to learn about Israel and the diversity and vibrancy of the life and culture there in a short amount of time, he said.

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Despite promises, Ethiopian immigration still stalled as Israelis pass … – The Times of Israel

In October 2016, 63 Ethiopian immigrants touched down at Ben Gurion Airport to the joy and tears of eagerly waiting family members. They were the first Ethiopian Jews to make it to Israel since the government announced an end of immigration from Ethiopia over three years earlier, a move that angered Ethiopian Israelis who still had family in Gondar and Addis Ababa.

Amid speeches and flag-waving at Ben Gurion, leaders from the Jewish Agencys Natan Sharansky to Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver applauded the beginning of a new era, which would bring approximately 1,300 Ethiopian Jews to Israel each year, until the 9,000 Jews still living in Ethiopia all arrive in the Jewish state. But now, eight months after that government decision, the several dozen people who arrived on that October flight remain the only Jews to leave Ethiopia.

Despite a high-profile campaign and a much-celebrated agreement, not one member of the Ethiopian Jewish community has had an immigration request processed by the Interior Ministry to date, let alone been granted permission to come to Israel.

Octobers immigrants were approved by the Interior Ministry before the moratorium and prevented from coming immediately because there was no budgetary allocation for their absorption. But government promises have not been kept and their arrival has not yet been followed by mass immigration from Ethiopian.

On Monday, 500 members of Israels Ethiopian community packed into the Knessets auditorium for a celebratory session of the Immigration and Absorption Committee marking 25 years since Operation Solomon. But while Landver, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court justices and other senior officials lauded the daring operation that airlifted almost 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to the Jewish state, the festivities were marred by the uncertainty over the members of the community who still remain in Ethiopia.

MK Avraham Neguise addressing a special session of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee marking 25 years since Operation Solomon, March 6, 2017. (Courtesy)

The celebration and the joy is mixed with a deep sense of pain and worry, Knesset member Avraham Neguise (Likud) told The Times of Israel after addressing the gathering. Neguise came to Israel from Ethiopia as part of Operation Moses in 1984, the precursor to 1992s Operation Solomon.

In the past 25 years, over 50,000 more Ethiopians have come to Israel and have become and integral part of society. But we need to remember that the aliyah has not ended and there are still Jews that are stuck in Ethiopia and suffering there, he said. We cannot accept this discrimination and we will not give up the fight. If the government continues to disregard the community by failing to implement its own decision, we will fight like we have never fought before.

For many of the hundreds of participants at the Knesset ceremony who still have family in Ethiopia, Neguises fighting talk was far more than an exercise in protest politics.

Berahoun Kibrout, who came to the Knesset from the southern city of Beersheba, has seven siblings waiting for permission to immigrate to Israel. They have been waiting for 15 years.

They are in a terrible situation, they are really suffering. Its a horrible feeling that nothing is being done, he said. Our family has been split up. I have a life here but they are stuck there.

Atenkut Setataw (right), with his wife Alesa Netere (left) and a neighbor outside of their home in Gondar, which Setataw painted. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

There are approximately 9,000 people still living in Ethiopia who were not allowed to immigrate to Israel because the Interior Ministry determined they were not Jewish. Ethiopian Jews counter that the process to determine their Jewishness was poorly executed and inaccurate, dividing families. At least 80 percent of the Jews in Ethiopia have first-degree relatives living in Israel.

The Jews left behind in Ethiopia are classified as Falashmura, a term for Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity, often under duress, generations ago. Falashmura are not considered eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which requires at least one Jewish grandparent and disqualifies someone who has converted to another religion, even if the conversion happened a long time ago.

We secured the budget, we dealt with all every question that was asked of us, and fulfilled all the needs that were required. Why are the Jews not being brought here yet? MK Avraham Neguisa

Kibrout said that the 2016 government decision gave his family hope, but it has been bitterly disappointed by the failure to implement the move. The government is not taking us seriously. They keep telling us stories but nothing is happening, he said.

Two weeks ago, at a Knesset hearing on Ethiopian immigration, lawmakers heard about factors that have prevented the process from getting underway: protests in parts of Ethiopia, a lack of office space in Addis Ababa, ongoing work on the embassy in the Ethiopian capital, civil action over the salaries for Israeli envoys, and bureaucratic disagreements between government agencies in Jerusalem.

Ethiopian Israelis attend a Knesset committee meeting on the governments failure to implement a decision to bring 1,300 member of the Jewish community from Ethiopia to Israel, February 20, 2017. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

This is the most ridiculous game of pass the buck I have ever seen in my life, bellowed Knesset House Committee chair MK David Bitan (Likud) over the complaints of various representatives of government ministries. I have chaired hundreds of Knesset meetings and I have never seen such an absurd situation.

Bitan, along with Neguise, helped to secure the government agreement to restart Ethiopian immigration, at least partially, by refusing to vote with the coalition until funding was found for the move. With the coalition at the time encompassing just 61 of the 120 members of Knesset, the two were able to hold the governments legislative agenda hostage with their own demands. Now that the coalition has been expanded, their political capital is much less valuable.

Although the government unanimously approved the immigration of all the remaining Jews from Ethiopia in November 2015, the decision faltered three months later when the Prime Ministers Office refused to implement the program because the $1 billion it said was needed to fund the absorption process was not in the state budget.

Ethiopian families are reunited on October 9, 2016 as the first group of Ethiopian immigrants arrives at Ben Gurion airport since the government announced the end of Ethiopian aliyah in August 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In August 2016, the Finance Ministry finally reached a compromise and agreed to allocate a budget that would enable 1,300 Ethiopians to move to Israel, with the money divided among a number of entities, including the Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Jewish Agency.

Now, those three government bodies are blaming each other for a failure to begin the process, let alone fulfill the agreed quota of approximately 100 people a month.

We secured the budget, we dealt with every question that was asked of us, and fulfilled all the needs that were required. Why are the Jews not being brought here yet? Neguise asked the government representatives at the February Knesset meeting.

Each had a different answer.

The head of the Foreign Ministrys consular services unit, Eyal Siso, said that violent protests in Ethiopia had caused massive delays in getting the project underway.

Ethiopia has been dealing with widespread anti-government protests, the most significant civil unrest in decades, centered in the Oromo and Amhara regions. Gondar, which is home to approximately 6,000 of the 9,000 Jews still left in the country, is located in the Amhara region.

MK Avraham Neguisa (R) and MK David Amsalem at a meeting of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee, February 21, 2017. (Yizhak Harari/Knesset Spokespersons Department)

But challenged by Neguise, Siso admitted that the Israeli consular building in Gondar had not been at risk for more than two weeks, while the embassy building in Addis Ababa had not been affected at all.

The head of the Jewish Agencys Aliyah and Special Operations Department, Yehuda Scharf, said that the problem in Addis Ababa was not violent protests but a lack of office space at the embassy.

According to Amos Arbel, director of the Interior Ministrys population registry, a new building is being constructed that will be finished in the coming months. Arbel said the work of processing immigration requests cannot start until there are appropriate facilities, a claim ridiculed by Neguise and others, who pointed out that over 50,000 people had immigrated via the Addis Ababa embassy in the past 30 years.

Conceding that the work could indeed have begun in Gondar, Arbel said that a dispute over the salary for Israeli envoys to Ethiopia had prevented Interior Ministry representatives from traveling to the country to start processing applications.

After the Knesset meeting, the Jewish Agency reported to its board of governors that the Interior Ministry would begin its work soon and flights would resume before the Passover festival in April.

Representatives from the Ministry of Interior will be travelling to Gondar on February 26th and together with our shaliach [emmissary] will begin the process of interviewing the potential Olim [immigrants]. Once the offices in Addis Ababa are built the Ministry of Interior representatives will be travelling and interviewing potential Olim together with our shaliach in both these locations, the report, seen by The Times of Israel, read.

Where are the French Jews? Where are the American Jews? Children and adults are dying while waiting. This is the only aliyah that any one is trying to stop. MK Eli Alaluf

We hope that the Ministry of Interior will grant eligibility to those waiting in a timely fashion and that by Passover the first group Olim from Ethiopia will be here to celebrate the holiday in Israel, the report concluded.

Unconvinced, Neguise last week organized an emergency cross-party delegation of Knesset members Hilik Bar (Zionist Union), Eli Alaluf (Kulanu) and Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) to travel with him to Ethiopia to assess the situation.

Returning to Israel a day before the House Committee meeting, the MKs told the gathering on Monday about their experiences vising the Jewish communities in both Gondar and Addis Ababa.

I came back from the visit both embarrassed and enthused. It was emotional for me to see how, living in inhumane conditions, 9,000 people are still preserving their Judaism and yearning to come to Israel, Cohen said. But its a horrible feeling to know that those Jews are waiting while the State of Israel is not fulfilling its promise to bring them here.

MKs on a cross-party delegation to Ethiopia attend a service with members of Gondars Jewish community, March 3, 2017. (Courtesy)

Ethiopian Jews live in poverty in the cities of Gondar and Addis Ababa, after they left their villages 15 to 20 years ago in order to register with Israeli officials and wait their turn to move to Israel. Because they have been in limbo for years, always assuming they would be leaving for Israel momentarily, Jews often did not invest in businesses or real estate, plunging them further into poverty as the years passed. In Gondar, 6,000 Jews live in rented mud shacks, most without electricity or running water.

Members of the Jewish community are also poorer than the average Ethiopian. In 2011, researchers found that 41% of the Jewish children in Gondar were malnourished, and in the 12-23 month age range, 67% were malnourished. The average urban malnutrition rate in Ethiopia is 30%.The Jewish Agency used to run a feeding program for the Jewish community, for nursing and expectant mothers and children up to age 6, but that program ended in 2013 when they announced the end of Ethiopian aliyah.

Alaluf said he was shocked at the ineptitude of the Israeli officials in Ethiopia, noting that one told him the delay had been due to a lack of air conditioning in the embassy. The elevation of Addis Ababa is 2,300 meters (7,700 feet), a cool to cold climate where air conditioning is unnecessary. They should be immediately returned to Israel and replaced with people with the minimum level of empathy and understanding, said Alaluf.

A view outside the Jewish Agency-run synagogue in Gondar. (Michal Shmulovich/ToI)

Alaluf also directed criticism at Jewish communities around the world, which he said have diverged from the massive support they gave for operations Moses and Solomon, and remained largely silent over the suspension of Ethiopian immigration. Where are the French Jews? Where are the American Jews? Children and adults are dying while waiting. This is the only aliyah that any one is trying to stop. This embarrassment needs to end now, he said emphatically.

According to Neguise, learning of the incoming delegation, the Interior Ministry envoys who arrived in Ethiopia last Sunday had rushed to begin processing requests so that the Knesset members would see that the government decision was finally on the way to being implemented.

But even with the renewed pressure and the modest progress, representatives of the community in Ethiopia say a first flight before Passover the festival celebrating the Jewish peoples exodus from Egypt is seeming increasingly unlikely.

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministrys population registry declined repeated requests from The Times of Israel to comment on the delays, the conditions of the facilities in Ethiopia, the processing of requests and the date immigration is expected to resume.

International Christian Embassy Jerusalem Headquarters in Katamon, Jerusalem. (CC BY-SA: Deror Avi, Wikimedia Commons)

In the meantime, the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem has offered to pay approximately $800 per person to cover the transportation costs from Gondar or Addis Ababa to the absorption centers in Israel, according to spokesman David Parsons. For the past 25 years, the ICEJ has paid for about 10% of all annual aliyah flights from around the world, and it is currently sponsoring flights from India, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, in addition to Ethiopia.

Parsons said the ICEJ has already transferred money for about 900 plane tickets for Ethiopian Jews, and is fundraising to pay for the remaining 400 tickets. That would cover the first year of Ethiopian immigration, in which the government approved the absorption of 1,300 Jews.

We are anxious to see them come and we know that these people have had hopes about coming and its been deferred and deferred far to many times already, said Parsons. Weve got another donation to make soon, but it would help to see more flights.

Members of Gondar’s Jewish community attend gathering hosted by a cross-party delegation of Knesset members to Ethiopia, March 3, 2017. (Courtesy)

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Christian groups launch TV series defending Israel – Jerusalem Post Israel News

A screenshot of the trailer.. (photo credit:TBN)

A partnership of Christians groups have collaborated to create a series called Why Israel Matters, which intends to set the record straight on Israel and the Jewish state.

Christians in Defense of Israel (CIDI), Liberty Counsel and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) produced the 13-part original series that demonstrates the crucial importance of the Jewish state to Christians, to the United States and to the world in general. The first episode, which debuted February 28, can be seen online on TBN.

At the end of each weeks airing, the Christian television network posts the episode on its website. The second episode will air March 7.

Even though I have lived with this series for over two years and reviewed the rough cut version, I was still moved by the impact of this powerful story about Jews being drawn to Israel from around the world, Mat Staver, chairman of Christians in Defense of Israel and Liberty Counsel, said.

Filmed in the Holy Land and featuring a multitude of guests, Why Israel Matters explores how such a small country plays such an important role in the world.

It reveals how the miracle nation sprung up from its biblical roots and went through a heartbreaking history after having its two temples destroyed and becoming a scattered people, finally reemerging as an independent nation, just as the prophets foretold, and today is the role model of a hopeful, persevering and courageous nation, inspiring the world throughout with its successes in every field.

Each week, host Mati Shoshani, an expert on Israeli history and the director of operations at TBN, the worlds largest religious television network, guides viewers through the fascinating elements of Israels still-unfolding narrative.

In the first episode, called Homecoming, Shoshani presents three stories that capture the beauty of the Jewish people coming home to their ancient homeland.

Peppering his narration with quotes from the Bible, in the first story, Shoshani interviews Jews from Kaifeng, China, revealing how even in a far-off region, they never lost touch with their roots. Jin Jin, a Chinese Jew speaking in broken Hebrew, recalls her father telling her about her heritage One day you must return to Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel], Jin says her father told her. Because it is the land that God has given us.

Former member of Knesset, Pnina Tamano-Shata, the first Ethiopian-born woman to hold a position in the Knesset, and Hanna Goslar, a Holocaust survivor who lived next to Anne Frank while their two families found refuge in Amsterdam, echoed Jin Jins feelings after their trials and tribulations in the country where they were born, there was only one place that they could truly call home.

There has never been a more important time for Christians and others of good will across America and around the world to stand in solidarity with the nation and people of Israel, said Staver.

Why Israel Matters is designed to help viewers grow in their understanding of the strong bond each of us shares with Israel through our faith, our heritage and our worldview. Every viewer will be inspired and empowered to be thoughtful, compelling participants in the global conversation about Israel.

The next three episodes will be: Neighbors, how Israel has survived and thrived in the hostile Middle East; Miracles, a look at Israels advances in technology, agriculture and military security; and Survivors, how Israels past gives its citizens courage and perseverance to thrive and prosper.

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Thousands attend rally to Stand Against Hate – Philly.com

Thousands of people of many faiths and backgrounds filled Independence Mall on Thursday in a Stand Against Hate, to protest the recent desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis, and a spate of bomb threats to Jewish community centers and day schools.

About 100 headstones were discovered toppled at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Wissinoming on Sunday. It was the second reported act of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in weeks. Headstones at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis were discovered damaged on Feb. 20.

As the demonstration began at noon in front of Independence Hall, there were reports of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, N.Y.

The rally was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which estimated that as many as 5,000 people filled the expanse on Independence Mall.

In the crowd was the Rev. Donna Maree, an Episcopal priest who is rector of Trinity Memorial Church in Center City.

Maree said she had just come back from a visit to Israel with a group of Christians and Jews on Feb. 23, just days before the news of the toppled headstones at Mount Carmel in Northeast Philadelphia made headlines and news coverage worldwide.

“We talked to Palestinians, Jewish Israelis, Ethiopian Jews,” said Maree, who made the trip with the Jewish Community Relations Council, which is part of the Jewish Federation.

“People want peace,” Maree said. She said she has had contact with Jewish people in Israel about the spate of hate incidents targeting cemeteries, schools and community centers.

“It’s disappointing to Jews in Israel that people here have turned to hate.”

The Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, was also at the rally. He said hewas saddened by the recent incidents and that it was important to speak out.

“I am reminded of the quote by Martin Niemoller,” Tyler said, a reference to the Protestant pastor who spoke out against Adolf Hitler by noting persecution of one group after another, when nothing was said. It ends: “Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

I am incredibly heartened by the outpouring of so many generations of people who are taking their time to come out in the cold to stand against hate, said Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation.

She urged those in the crowd — blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics; Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists to take the spirit of the rally back to their homes and communities. Share your stories of what justice, love, and mercy are, Adler said.

Among the speakers was Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who got loud applause when he said he had just spent time in Washington telling President Trump that vandalism and bomb threats were hate crimes and needed to be treated as such.

To my fellow Jews, Shapiro said, today it is us, tomorrow it will be LGBTQ people, and another day it will be our African American brothers and sisters or our Latino brothers and sisters.

But no matter who is being targeted, we are all less safe.

Max Buchdahl, 21, a junior at Temple University and president of Hillel at Temple, said he was encouraged by the gathering of so many people at the place where American democracy was born.

Its great to see this many people here, and its incredible that its across faiths and across racial groups, Buchdahl said. He added that he and other Temple students, Jewish and non-Jewish, went to Mount Carmel, at Frankford and Cheltenham Avenues, to help with restoration efforts.

Also in the crowd was Amnah Ahmad, 29, associate director of the Arab American Development Corp. at Al-Aqsa Mosque in North Philadelphia. She carried a sign that read, Islam = Peace.

We came to show love and peace to the Jewish community, Ahmad said.

As she talked to reporters, Barry Ungar, 73, of Haverford, who is Jewish, walked up to her and said, “Any attacks against you are attacks against us.”

He continued: “I never thought I would see in my lifetime this kind of danger and fear.”

Also at the rally were two other Jewish groups, If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Spokespersons for both said that while they condemned the vandalism against Jewish cemeteries, they also condemned hate crimes against Muslims, African Americans and others.

“We stand here as Jews with our fellow Jews,” said Ezra Nepon, a spokesman for Jewish Voice for Peace. “We’re so glad that they have condemned all kinds of oppression.”

Published: March 2, 2017 3:47 PM EST | Updated: March 2, 2017 6:09 PM EST

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NBA Star Amar’e Stoudemire Awarded MLK Prize in Jerusalem – Forward

On Sunday, former NBA player and now Israeli basketball star Amare Stoudemire, was awarded Israels Martin Luther King Jr. Award, given to individuals who embody the spirit and ideals of Dr. King.

I am truly honored to be receiving this amazing award, said Stoudemire, who signed a two-year contract with Israels Hapoel Jerusalem club last year. In a video to his Instagram followers, Stoudemire stood against the night skyline of Jerusalem and described the award as honoring my courage to be an Israelite and also to be able to work and talk about equality to all nations.

Every Black History Month, the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the State of Israel give out this award to individuals who promote diversity and tolerance, a press release read.

Stoudemire runs the Amare and Alexis Stoudemire Foundation with his wife, Alexis which supports at-risk youth around the world, according to the foundationss website.

In Israel, Stoudemire is continuing his philanthropic work. He hosted a basketball peace camp this summer, which drew participants from a range of distinct Israeli communities, including Palestinians, Hebrew Israelites and Ethiopian Jews. Stoudemire also hosted another childrens camp at the Israel Museum, part of an annual series called In The Paint, which joins together basketball and art activities.

Israeli officials lauded Stoudemire.

Stoudemire has again set an example that sportsmanship supersedes nationality, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, said Russell F. Robinson, CEO of Jewish National Fund-USA. Robinson said that all of these qualities are welcome in Israel, a country he called a beacon of democracy in an otherwise turbulent part of the world.

Amare Stoudemire has spearheaded many initiatives that empower the less fortunate and advance important principles like tolerance, peace, creativity and healthy living, said Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York.

Past recipients of Israels MLK Award have included former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, the author Toni Morrison, entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Harry Belafonte.

When Stoudemire signed his deal with Hapoel in early August moving to Jerusalem with his entire family his spiritual and professional paths converged.

Stoudemire has been on a years long journey into religion and heritage, a path that has fascinated and at times bewildered, American Jews and Israelis. He is not Jewish, as some continue to report, but a Hebrew Israelite meaning he views the Torah as an ancestral record of African Americans, and sees the land of Israel as part of his heritage.

Stoudemire maintains close ties with the Hebrew Israelites of Dimona, and even executive produced a documentary film about that community. Stoudemire regularly peppers his social media with biblical quotes.

If your ancestors were brought to America, or any other part of the world by slave ship, you are from the ancient tribe of the Hebrew Israelites, Stoudemire said in a February 2016 YouTube video alongside a Hebrew Israelite pastor in Chicago. This is black history, this is true black history.

Despite the praise from Israeli officials, since the move to Jerusalem Stoudemire has faced some adversity.

The Stoudemires 12-year-old son, Deuce, was barred from playing games with Hapoel Jerusalems youth team because he is not an Israeli citizen. Deuce was invited to play baseball instead.

Stoudemire has also clashed with Israeli basketball referees on a number of occasions, even taking to social media to rail against the officials. I have witnessed the worst officiating in the world of basketball, Stoudemire wrote on Instagram. Way to discourage other top players from coming to play in Israel.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

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‘Israel doesn’t want Ethiopians’ – Israel National News – Arutz Sheva

Immigration and Absorption Commitee Head MK Avraham Negusa (Likud) led a delegation of MKs to Ethiopia. In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Negusa said he discovered “a shameful sight” of thousands of Jews held up by various excuses, and who are not being allowed to immigrate to Israel even though the Israeli government approved their immigration. “It’s sad to see so many Jews who should have come to Israel but are instead living their lives in a foreign country,” Negusa said. “Despite the government’s decision to bring 9000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, only 83 were brought. We’ve heard a lot of excuses, and we wanted to see for ourselves what is happening. We arrived in Ethiopia in order to supervise the execution of the israeli government’s decision, and to find out what’s holding it up. “We arrived on Thursday – and the Interior Ministry in Gondar only started working on the Monday prior to our arrival. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, they haven’t even started working towards helping these people make aliya (immigrate to Israel). The Interior Ministry said the Israeli consulate had not given them the necessary space. We spoke to the consulate, and they showed us the rooms they had set aside. They’re constantly making excuses not to bring our brothers to Israel. “It cannot be that the Israeli government does not fulfill its promises or execute its decisions. If the government does not respect its own decisions, we have a huge problem. If, in a democratic country, we ignore our own decisions – then we have a big problem. “As MKs, we need to supervise the execution of the government’s decisions. We return to Israel disappointed, angry, and bitter. The Ethiopian Jewish community is in dire straits. Hundreds are dying in Addis Ababa and Gondar. “We will unite the Knesset, including the opposition, and we will pressure the Israeli government to bring our brothers home. It’s time to end the discrimination. “All the Jews of the world immigrate to Israel and are accepted with flowers and parties – but Ethiopian Jews are not wanted here.”

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Building Bridges Between the Black Church and the Israeli People – Patheos (blog)

By Eliana Rudee On a chilly Friday morning in Jerusalem, 14 American Baptist leaders filed into Colel Chabads Pantry Packers packing plant, ready to prepare food for Israels underprivileged. Despite the cold, Michael Seiler, Manager of Liaison Services with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), volunteered his Friday morning to brief the Baptist leaders, promising that this activity would warm everyones hearts. Indeed, hearts were warmed and bridges were built during the groups weeklong tour around Israel, from February 13-20. For most, this tour represented their first time in Israel, and nearly everyone cited their great excitement about touring the land they invoke daily in Bible passages and having the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked. The group, part of The Fellowship, learned about historic bonds between the Christian and Jewish people through visits to Christian and Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall, the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, Masada, Caesarea, Muhraka (Horn of Carmel), and Meggido. They also made a special visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Reverend Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., from Lake Charles Louisiana, led the group. His goal was to bring back to his community the value in doing what we have been called to do by God, namely, being a blessing to Israel through missions to Israel. He noted that African American churches are passing up a lot of opportunities to be blessed, citing Genesis 12:1-3: I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. In addition to citing religious reasons to support Israel, many Baptist leaders appeal to historical ties between Jews and the African American community, citing that Jews were there for them when they needed it during the civil rights movement, and now Jews need their solidarity. They hope to extend solidarity between the two groups by renewing the historical relationship from the 1960s, when Jews marched (two of them killed) in the Selma Civil Rights March with Martin Luther King Jr. Upon returning home, Reverent Tolbert said that he was especially grateful to strengthen our connection to the Israeli people and most importantly, to G-d. I will not go home and preach the same, said Earlene Coleman, a Pastor at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, representing the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention. Indeed, many of them go back home to preach about build bridges with Israel and the Jewish community. The participants are given educational material on Israel and the Jewish roots of Christianity, which is often passed to their church members. Some begin hosting special prayer services on Israels Day of Independence or invite a Rabbi to their congregation for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Others even bring thousands of their members on annual tours of Israel with their congregations. They are also encouraged to adopt projects related to bridge building. Recent tour alumni have sponsored vocational trainings and soup kitchens for under-privileged Israelis, sponsored meals for Holocaust survivors, and renovated a bomb shelter. One early-stage project hopes to bring an Israeli-developed post-trauma program to the inner cities of African American communities for children who have encountered violence and drug-related crimes. Pastor Colemans colleague with the Lott Carey Foreign Mission, Derick Brennan, is Pastor of the Canaan Baptist Church of Philadelphia. His takeaway of the week was the great benefit of building mutually beneficial partnerships between Jews and Christians. We overlook the power of synergy. Once you go below the surface, [you realize] we have the same goals and objectives. You can get so much more done as partners than as individual entities, he said. He also highlighted the importance of knowledge and coming to Israel, rather than taking for granted the narratives that are often driven by the media. Indeed, the media has often swayed the African American communitys support and understanding or lack thereof of the Jewish State. Several months ago, the Movement for Black Lives coalition released a statement that called for ending U.S. military aid to Israel, using apartheid language with a link to a website promoting the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel. Additionally, this month, Seattle Seahawks defensive end and outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter, Michael Bennett, announced that he will no longer be joining an NFL delegation to Israel, after feeling used, and citing a Times of Israel article in which Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan was quoted as saying that the visit would host influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in hopes of them becoming ambassadors of good will for Israel. Reverend Tolbert, however, viewed being an ambassador of goodwill in Israel as an entirely positive thing, especially in its ability to uplift the African American community through building partnerships with the African Israeli community. Declaring his intentions to take on a project that will offer a platform for continued connection to Israel, he expects to organize a program related to the Ethiopian Jewish community of Israel, which he believes would boost the African American community who are largely unaware of the existence of the large population of African Jews in Israel. By the end of their week-long visit, whether physically contributing to Israel through packing food, or vowing to financially contributing to support the Ethiopian community of Israel, all 14 Baptist leaders certainly blessed Israel, and in turn, went home blessed and ready to preach to their congregation messages of partnership with Israel and the Jewish community. Eliana Rudee is a fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Her bylines have been featured in USA Today, New York Daily News, Forbes, and The Hill.

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Senate Urges WH Action On JCC Threats; Christians Launch Pro-Israel TV; Jewish-Gypsy Cooperation In Hungary – Jewish Week

Senate urges White House action on JCC threats In a rare display of bipartisanship, every member of the Senate yesterday signed an open letter to the Trump administration demanding that the White House take action to address the ongoing surge in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country. According to the Times of Israel, the letter, will be sent to the heads of multiple government agencies, came amidst a sixth wave of bomb threats to Jewish community centers across North America, as well as several offices of the Anti-Defamation League. These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states, the 100 senators said in their appeal. Jewish-Gypsy cooperation in Hungary Members of Hungarys minority Jewish and Roma (Gypsy) communities are finding common ground at an avant-garde Jewish community center in Budapest. The Aurora center, located in a poor neighborhood of the capital, has in the last three years become one of the citys hippest coffee bars and a major hub for social and opposition activists fighting the policies of Hungarys right-wing government, JTA reports. The Jewish-Roma partnership at Aurora is unusual in a country where the two minorities rarely act in unison, according to Eszter Hajdu, a Hungarian filmmaker who has studied that relationship. French Jewish historian acquitted on anti-Arab charge A French court yesterday acquitted Jewish historian Georges Bensoussan of hate speech charges over his assertion that Arabs receive anti-Semitism with their mothers milk, JTA reports. Georges Bensoussan. Wikipedia The decision of 17thCriminal Tribunal of Paris ended a polarizing trial that observersregardedas a significant test case for determining the boundaries of academic freedom amid growing inter-ethnic tensions. Bensoussan, a scholar on the Holocaust and one of the worlds leading historians on Jewish communities in Arab territories, was put ontrialin December after a Muslim lobby group and a French human rights organization that was founded by Jews in the 1920s initiated a criminal lawsuit against him for the statement he made during an interview for a radio station in 2012. Christians launch pro-Israel TV series A partnership of Christians groups has created a series called Why Israel Matters to set the record straight on Israel and the Jewish state, the Jerusalem Post reports.Christians in Defense of Israel, Liberty Counsel and the Trinity Broadcasting Network produced the 13-part original series that demonstrates the crucial importance of the Jewish state to Christians, to the United States and to the world in general. The second episode aired yesterday. Are charedi Israelis joining the Start-Up Nation? A start-up fair geared to men and women in Israels charedi community drew a large crowd last week at the Bank Leumi building in Tel Aviv, the latest sign of a growing entrepreneurial bent in fervently Orthodox circles, the Times of Israel reports. The second annual event was organized by KamaTech,a nonprofit organization and startup accelerator, which aims to integrate Haredi men and women into Israels high-tech industry, according to the Times. This yearly event is a peak of our activity, to show what they are doing, Moshe Friedman, the co-founder of KamaTech, said. The quality of companies is better this time round, with more mature technologies and better business oriented. Kosher a big draw for non-Jewish shoppers Bonnie Taub-Dix, an author and nutritional consultant, tells consumers in U.S. News that a kosher label on a product indicates health benefits for consumers, even if they are not interested in the products spiritual advantages. Apparently, plenty of folks of all religions are gravitating toward the label, she writes. According to areportciting data from the market research firm Mintel, kosher was the top label claim on new foods and beverages launched in 2014, with 41 percent of such products donning the tag consumers seem to believe kosher items are safer, since they are produced under stricter supervision than the basic food supply, which is overseen by government inspection. Taub-Dix cites the certainty of religious-inspired standards that will not change, the knowledge that items marked pareve contain no meat or dairy ingredients, and the absence of colorants derived from insects, even though such additives may be considered natural in other products. Former President George H.W. Bush arrives for the coin toss prior to Super Bowl 51 between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images President Bush honored for role in Ethiopian airlift A Houston foundation that fights anti-Semitism will today honor former President George H.W. Bush for supporting several humanitarian causes, notably the secret emigration of Ethiopian Jews, KPRC TV in Houston reports. According to the television station, Bush and his wife Barbara are to receive the annual Mensch Award from the Hungarian-based Mensch International Foundation, which was founded by philanthropist Steven Geiger to develop an educational curriculum to stamp-out stereotyping and anti-Semitic and racist thinking Bush played an active role in secret airlifts of Ethiopias threatened Jewish community in 1984 and 1991. Iran blocks Israeli-developed Waza app Iran has temporary blocked access to Waze, a GPS-based geographical navigation application due to its Israeli background, according to the Trend News Agency, the biggest private news company inAzerbaijan, the Caucasus region andCentral Asia. Access to the app was blocked in recent days, and the Iranian Committee for Determining Offensive Contents is to meet today to discuss the permanent ban of the access to Waze. Waze, formerly FreeMap Israel was first developed and popularized by the Israeli company Waze Mobile.

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Give resistance wings: opposing the whitewashing of Israel’s racism and anti-blackness – The Daily Vox (blog)

International Israeli Apartheid Week is once again upon us, and civil society organisations around the world are displaying solidarity with the Palestinian people, who struggle against an apartheid system of occupation, systematic discrimination and segregation enforced by Israel. True to form, Israels apologists have tapped a reservoir of reactionary energy, making peace the enemy of justice and vacuously deploying platitudes in a quest to pacify. This year, at the centre of their campaign to whitewash ethnic cleansing and apartheid, sits a single, spurious claim the Zionist state is a multi-ethnic democracy that cherishes diversity. A touch of melanin is on display, aiming to drown out the evidence of institutionalised racism. Israel has black friends, how could it possibly be racist? As a rule of thumb, those who feel the need to repeatedly declare that theyre not at all racist those who scramble to point at the black friend are ordinarily seeking to obscure the realities of structural racism. It is a worn tactic, deployed by those who are unwilling to engage the racial injustices in which they may be complicit. It is also a disingenuous indulgence in identity politics, grounded in the misplaced belief that having a person of colour speak in your favour is enough to dismiss allegations of racism. In the instance of Israeli apologetics, the case is unambiguous and damning. The Israeli state imposes upon the people of Palestine a system of apartheid a system of racial and ethnic categorisation, segregation, and discrimination that is enforced through brutal military occupation. This is not merely the opinion of the Palestinian solidarity movement, but is the conclusion reached by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Apartheid is a crime against humanity, and sits at the apex of institutionalised racism. No number of glossy posters and misappropriated Madiba murals can erase this. Beyond Israels institutionalised racism towards Palestinians, however, the Africans for Israel line is both ludicrous and insulting because it is an erasure of the material realities faced by Africans (most of whom are African Jews) living within Israel, who struggle daily with the anti-blackness of the Israeli state (and indeed Israeli society, too). Over the past five years, there has been a wave of demonstrations by Mizrahi Jews who dont originate from Europe, as Ashkenazi Jews do, but in the Middle East and North Africa from African countries like Eritrea and Ethiopia. In mid-2016, Ethiopian Jews took to the streets with a list of grievances that included unjust incarceration, deportation, police brutality, the perpetuation of separate educational and housing streams for Ethiopian Israelis, and the coerced sterilisation of Ethiopian migrants as a means of demographic control. The Eurocentric identity of the Israeli state, coupled with the ethno-nationalist, settler colonial ideology of Zionism, has resulted in the systematic desecration of rights for those citizens of Israel who originate in the continent that knows the price of colonialism all too well. Many African migrants to Israel, as well as progressive Jews of colour, hold that Israeli state and society, both explicitly and implicitly, back a form of European Ashkenazi Judaism which is exclusionary towards the diversity of Jews around the world. They are also frustrated by the unwillingness of Israeli society to even acknowledge their struggle. These frustrations are shared by many among South Africas dispossessed black majority. There is a common thread that runs through the discourses of racism denial in South Africa, as well as Zionist apologetics surrounding the Israeli state. The white whine that weve been forced to sample again and again during protests for free education is brought out in barrels when the largely privileged caucus of white, Zionist South Africans assemble to try and impede progressive internationalism. We witness the same unwillingness to come to terms with the manner in which historical injustices influence present realities. Yesterday, it was apartheid at home, today it is the Nakba in Palestine their cry is the same: Its in the past, get over it. The reactionary faction that appeases, and even perpetrates injustice has a long history of globalism. Oceans and deserts did not stand in the way of the European project of colonial land theft. Today, that globalism remains alive. We see it in police exchange programmes between Israel and cities in the US, where persistent police brutality and anti-blackness birthed the movement for black lives. And we see it in the groups of apartheid beneficiaries whove linked hands in their refusal to see race (or more accurately, to see racism). Tactics to crush protest and harass vulnerable communities are being shared by oppressive state actors, and we are witnessing the globalisation of authoritarianism. We are also witnessing the accelerating globalisation of the tactics of unseeing and erasure that serve to appease it. In response, I echo writers Arundhati Roy and Angela Davis, and appeal for us to rapidly, urgently, globalise dissent. At a time when fascists have seized the reins of power in some of the worlds most powerful nations when ultra-nationalists like Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump are finding common ground in a taste for hyper-masculine militarism and in an obsession with erecting walls, it is necessary for us to reiterate our commitment to progressive internationalism. Now more than ever, it is necessary for us to give resistance wings. Raees Noorbhai is a student activist, writer and researcher, currently studying astrophysics at Wits. He is also the chairperson of the Wits Chapter of Amnesty International.

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A direct connection for a Holy Land education – Jewish Journal

Aviv Mussali believes theres one surefire way to effectively teach American Jews about the Holy Land while they are at camp: introduce them to native Israelis like him. Bringing Israeli education to camp cant be done better than bringing Israelis to camp to do that, said Mussali, who became a senior scout at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu in the summer of 2009. Israelis come with passion for education, especially after finishing the army. They have seen the conflicts, and they have lived through rough times. Speaking about their stories, and even just being there as friends, is a great tool. His role at camp involved hosting Israeli activities, integrating costumes and props from the country and rewarding campers with Hebrew T-shirts. Mussali had such a great experience that he went on to serve two more summers there, leading its Israel Day and giving a weekly update on events in the Jewish state. This approach to Israel education is by no means unique among local Jewish overnight camps, many of which offer special programming, hire Israeli staff members and integrate Israeli education into regular activities. For example, this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, and Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles summer camp in Running Springs will be commemorating it with special art, dance, music and cooking programs. It will focus on the traditions of the different ethnicities Russian, Ethiopian and American that have immigrated to Israel. According to Executive Director Menachem Hecht, this program will be a really integrated, immersive, holistic educational experience. It brings to life our heritage and our relationship to Israel. A number of the Bnei Akiva staff members are Israeli, flying in to work for the summer. Often, when campers or staff go to Israel to visit or study, this helps provide them with a social network there and a place to spend Shabbat, he said. At the Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps (WBTC) in Malibu Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp staff from Israel teach attendees about their country and serve as role models. Campers who are at least sophomores in high school also have the opportunity to go to Israel for four weeks with WBTC and the North American Federation of Temple Youth, according to the WBTC website. Bringing Israeli education to camp cant be done better than bringing Israelis to camp to do that. -Aviv Mussali Camp Ramah in California in Ojai is another camp that offers opportunities to learn about Israel by actually going there. It sends campers to the Holy Land through the Ramah Israel Seminar, a six-week exploration and study trip for former Ramah campers entering the 12th grade. According to Rabbi Joe Menashe, executive director of the camp, there are currently 12 campers on a semester-long program in Israel called Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY). Students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades go to Israel to learn secular and religious studies, participate in simulated army training and do community service. These campers may be inspired to travel because of the 30 Israeli emissaries who work there every summer. Ariella Moss Peterseil, an Israeli who is associate director of Camp Ramah, started out at Camp Ramah in Canada in 2000 right after she finished her army training. She said that in Ojai, the camp has a Yom Israel (Israel Day) each session thats run by the Israeli educators: They choose a topic and the campers and staff have an experiential day all around camp, which includes food, music, educational programming, dress up, ceremonies, activities, debates and sometimes social action for a cause in Israel. Peterseil emphasized that in order to gain a real education on and relationship with the Holy Land, campers need direct contact with Israelis. Our kids cannot have a positive connection or real knowledge about this place we call home unless they get to have real hands-on experiences and relationships with Israelis, she said. We achieve this by bringing a group of 30 young Israelis every summer and believe that the friendships and relationships are the most important part of the shlichut [mission]. During the weeks that Camp Alonim in Simi Valley is in session each summer, campers there also have the chance to interact with Israeli staff members. According to Executive Director Josh Levine, the camp has an extensive Israeli folk dancing program, and kids are taught how to broadcast Israeli music over their camp radio station. An Israeli song plays as a signal to campers that its time to clean their bunks. Levine said its important that the campers gain an Israeli education because the country is a major fact of Jewish life today, not only for Israelis but also for Americans. We want campers to learn about Israel and the diversity and vibrancy of the life and culture there in a short amount of time, he said.

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Despite promises, Ethiopian immigration still stalled as Israelis pass … – The Times of Israel

In October 2016, 63 Ethiopian immigrants touched down at Ben Gurion Airport to the joy and tears of eagerly waiting family members. They were the first Ethiopian Jews to make it to Israel since the government announced an end of immigration from Ethiopia over three years earlier, a move that angered Ethiopian Israelis who still had family in Gondar and Addis Ababa. Amid speeches and flag-waving at Ben Gurion, leaders from the Jewish Agencys Natan Sharansky to Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver applauded the beginning of a new era, which would bring approximately 1,300 Ethiopian Jews to Israel each year, until the 9,000 Jews still living in Ethiopia all arrive in the Jewish state. But now, eight months after that government decision, the several dozen people who arrived on that October flight remain the only Jews to leave Ethiopia. Despite a high-profile campaign and a much-celebrated agreement, not one member of the Ethiopian Jewish community has had an immigration request processed by the Interior Ministry to date, let alone been granted permission to come to Israel. Octobers immigrants were approved by the Interior Ministry before the moratorium and prevented from coming immediately because there was no budgetary allocation for their absorption. But government promises have not been kept and their arrival has not yet been followed by mass immigration from Ethiopian. On Monday, 500 members of Israels Ethiopian community packed into the Knessets auditorium for a celebratory session of the Immigration and Absorption Committee marking 25 years since Operation Solomon. But while Landver, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court justices and other senior officials lauded the daring operation that airlifted almost 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to the Jewish state, the festivities were marred by the uncertainty over the members of the community who still remain in Ethiopia. MK Avraham Neguise addressing a special session of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee marking 25 years since Operation Solomon, March 6, 2017. (Courtesy) The celebration and the joy is mixed with a deep sense of pain and worry, Knesset member Avraham Neguise (Likud) told The Times of Israel after addressing the gathering. Neguise came to Israel from Ethiopia as part of Operation Moses in 1984, the precursor to 1992s Operation Solomon. In the past 25 years, over 50,000 more Ethiopians have come to Israel and have become and integral part of society. But we need to remember that the aliyah has not ended and there are still Jews that are stuck in Ethiopia and suffering there, he said. We cannot accept this discrimination and we will not give up the fight. If the government continues to disregard the community by failing to implement its own decision, we will fight like we have never fought before. For many of the hundreds of participants at the Knesset ceremony who still have family in Ethiopia, Neguises fighting talk was far more than an exercise in protest politics. Berahoun Kibrout, who came to the Knesset from the southern city of Beersheba, has seven siblings waiting for permission to immigrate to Israel. They have been waiting for 15 years. They are in a terrible situation, they are really suffering. Its a horrible feeling that nothing is being done, he said. Our family has been split up. I have a life here but they are stuck there. Atenkut Setataw (right), with his wife Alesa Netere (left) and a neighbor outside of their home in Gondar, which Setataw painted. (Miriam Alster/Flash90) There are approximately 9,000 people still living in Ethiopia who were not allowed to immigrate to Israel because the Interior Ministry determined they were not Jewish. Ethiopian Jews counter that the process to determine their Jewishness was poorly executed and inaccurate, dividing families. At least 80 percent of the Jews in Ethiopia have first-degree relatives living in Israel. The Jews left behind in Ethiopia are classified as Falashmura, a term for Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity, often under duress, generations ago. Falashmura are not considered eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which requires at least one Jewish grandparent and disqualifies someone who has converted to another religion, even if the conversion happened a long time ago. We secured the budget, we dealt with all every question that was asked of us, and fulfilled all the needs that were required. Why are the Jews not being brought here yet? MK Avraham Neguisa Kibrout said that the 2016 government decision gave his family hope, but it has been bitterly disappointed by the failure to implement the move. The government is not taking us seriously. They keep telling us stories but nothing is happening, he said. Two weeks ago, at a Knesset hearing on Ethiopian immigration, lawmakers heard about factors that have prevented the process from getting underway: protests in parts of Ethiopia, a lack of office space in Addis Ababa, ongoing work on the embassy in the Ethiopian capital, civil action over the salaries for Israeli envoys, and bureaucratic disagreements between government agencies in Jerusalem. Ethiopian Israelis attend a Knesset committee meeting on the governments failure to implement a decision to bring 1,300 member of the Jewish community from Ethiopia to Israel, February 20, 2017. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel) This is the most ridiculous game of pass the buck I have ever seen in my life, bellowed Knesset House Committee chair MK David Bitan (Likud) over the complaints of various representatives of government ministries. I have chaired hundreds of Knesset meetings and I have never seen such an absurd situation. Bitan, along with Neguise, helped to secure the government agreement to restart Ethiopian immigration, at least partially, by refusing to vote with the coalition until funding was found for the move. With the coalition at the time encompassing just 61 of the 120 members of Knesset, the two were able to hold the governments legislative agenda hostage with their own demands. Now that the coalition has been expanded, their political capital is much less valuable. Although the government unanimously approved the immigration of all the remaining Jews from Ethiopia in November 2015, the decision faltered three months later when the Prime Ministers Office refused to implement the program because the $1 billion it said was needed to fund the absorption process was not in the state budget. Ethiopian families are reunited on October 9, 2016 as the first group of Ethiopian immigrants arrives at Ben Gurion airport since the government announced the end of Ethiopian aliyah in August 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90) In August 2016, the Finance Ministry finally reached a compromise and agreed to allocate a budget that would enable 1,300 Ethiopians to move to Israel, with the money divided among a number of entities, including the Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Jewish Agency. Now, those three government bodies are blaming each other for a failure to begin the process, let alone fulfill the agreed quota of approximately 100 people a month. We secured the budget, we dealt with every question that was asked of us, and fulfilled all the needs that were required. Why are the Jews not being brought here yet? Neguise asked the government representatives at the February Knesset meeting. Each had a different answer. The head of the Foreign Ministrys consular services unit, Eyal Siso, said that violent protests in Ethiopia had caused massive delays in getting the project underway. Ethiopia has been dealing with widespread anti-government protests, the most significant civil unrest in decades, centered in the Oromo and Amhara regions. Gondar, which is home to approximately 6,000 of the 9,000 Jews still left in the country, is located in the Amhara region. MK Avraham Neguisa (R) and MK David Amsalem at a meeting of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee, February 21, 2017. (Yizhak Harari/Knesset Spokespersons Department) But challenged by Neguise, Siso admitted that the Israeli consular building in Gondar had not been at risk for more than two weeks, while the embassy building in Addis Ababa had not been affected at all. The head of the Jewish Agencys Aliyah and Special Operations Department, Yehuda Scharf, said that the problem in Addis Ababa was not violent protests but a lack of office space at the embassy. According to Amos Arbel, director of the Interior Ministrys population registry, a new building is being constructed that will be finished in the coming months. Arbel said the work of processing immigration requests cannot start until there are appropriate facilities, a claim ridiculed by Neguise and others, who pointed out that over 50,000 people had immigrated via the Addis Ababa embassy in the past 30 years. Conceding that the work could indeed have begun in Gondar, Arbel said that a dispute over the salary for Israeli envoys to Ethiopia had prevented Interior Ministry representatives from traveling to the country to start processing applications. After the Knesset meeting, the Jewish Agency reported to its board of governors that the Interior Ministry would begin its work soon and flights would resume before the Passover festival in April. Representatives from the Ministry of Interior will be travelling to Gondar on February 26th and together with our shaliach [emmissary] will begin the process of interviewing the potential Olim [immigrants]. Once the offices in Addis Ababa are built the Ministry of Interior representatives will be travelling and interviewing potential Olim together with our shaliach in both these locations, the report, seen by The Times of Israel, read. Where are the French Jews? Where are the American Jews? Children and adults are dying while waiting. This is the only aliyah that any one is trying to stop. MK Eli Alaluf We hope that the Ministry of Interior will grant eligibility to those waiting in a timely fashion and that by Passover the first group Olim from Ethiopia will be here to celebrate the holiday in Israel, the report concluded. Unconvinced, Neguise last week organized an emergency cross-party delegation of Knesset members Hilik Bar (Zionist Union), Eli Alaluf (Kulanu) and Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) to travel with him to Ethiopia to assess the situation. Returning to Israel a day before the House Committee meeting, the MKs told the gathering on Monday about their experiences vising the Jewish communities in both Gondar and Addis Ababa. I came back from the visit both embarrassed and enthused. It was emotional for me to see how, living in inhumane conditions, 9,000 people are still preserving their Judaism and yearning to come to Israel, Cohen said. But its a horrible feeling to know that those Jews are waiting while the State of Israel is not fulfilling its promise to bring them here. MKs on a cross-party delegation to Ethiopia attend a service with members of Gondars Jewish community, March 3, 2017. (Courtesy) Ethiopian Jews live in poverty in the cities of Gondar and Addis Ababa, after they left their villages 15 to 20 years ago in order to register with Israeli officials and wait their turn to move to Israel. Because they have been in limbo for years, always assuming they would be leaving for Israel momentarily, Jews often did not invest in businesses or real estate, plunging them further into poverty as the years passed. In Gondar, 6,000 Jews live in rented mud shacks, most without electricity or running water. Members of the Jewish community are also poorer than the average Ethiopian. In 2011, researchers found that 41% of the Jewish children in Gondar were malnourished, and in the 12-23 month age range, 67% were malnourished. The average urban malnutrition rate in Ethiopia is 30%.The Jewish Agency used to run a feeding program for the Jewish community, for nursing and expectant mothers and children up to age 6, but that program ended in 2013 when they announced the end of Ethiopian aliyah. Alaluf said he was shocked at the ineptitude of the Israeli officials in Ethiopia, noting that one told him the delay had been due to a lack of air conditioning in the embassy. The elevation of Addis Ababa is 2,300 meters (7,700 feet), a cool to cold climate where air conditioning is unnecessary. They should be immediately returned to Israel and replaced with people with the minimum level of empathy and understanding, said Alaluf. A view outside the Jewish Agency-run synagogue in Gondar. (Michal Shmulovich/ToI) Alaluf also directed criticism at Jewish communities around the world, which he said have diverged from the massive support they gave for operations Moses and Solomon, and remained largely silent over the suspension of Ethiopian immigration. Where are the French Jews? Where are the American Jews? Children and adults are dying while waiting. This is the only aliyah that any one is trying to stop. This embarrassment needs to end now, he said emphatically. According to Neguise, learning of the incoming delegation, the Interior Ministry envoys who arrived in Ethiopia last Sunday had rushed to begin processing requests so that the Knesset members would see that the government decision was finally on the way to being implemented. But even with the renewed pressure and the modest progress, representatives of the community in Ethiopia say a first flight before Passover the festival celebrating the Jewish peoples exodus from Egypt is seeming increasingly unlikely. A spokesperson for the Interior Ministrys population registry declined repeated requests from The Times of Israel to comment on the delays, the conditions of the facilities in Ethiopia, the processing of requests and the date immigration is expected to resume. International Christian Embassy Jerusalem Headquarters in Katamon, Jerusalem. (CC BY-SA: Deror Avi, Wikimedia Commons) In the meantime, the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem has offered to pay approximately $800 per person to cover the transportation costs from Gondar or Addis Ababa to the absorption centers in Israel, according to spokesman David Parsons. For the past 25 years, the ICEJ has paid for about 10% of all annual aliyah flights from around the world, and it is currently sponsoring flights from India, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, in addition to Ethiopia. Parsons said the ICEJ has already transferred money for about 900 plane tickets for Ethiopian Jews, and is fundraising to pay for the remaining 400 tickets. That would cover the first year of Ethiopian immigration, in which the government approved the absorption of 1,300 Jews. We are anxious to see them come and we know that these people have had hopes about coming and its been deferred and deferred far to many times already, said Parsons. Weve got another donation to make soon, but it would help to see more flights. Members of Gondar’s Jewish community attend gathering hosted by a cross-party delegation of Knesset members to Ethiopia, March 3, 2017. (Courtesy)

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March 7, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Christian groups launch TV series defending Israel – Jerusalem Post Israel News

A screenshot of the trailer.. (photo credit:TBN) A partnership of Christians groups have collaborated to create a series called Why Israel Matters, which intends to set the record straight on Israel and the Jewish state. Christians in Defense of Israel (CIDI), Liberty Counsel and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) produced the 13-part original series that demonstrates the crucial importance of the Jewish state to Christians, to the United States and to the world in general. The first episode, which debuted February 28, can be seen online on TBN. At the end of each weeks airing, the Christian television network posts the episode on its website. The second episode will air March 7. Even though I have lived with this series for over two years and reviewed the rough cut version, I was still moved by the impact of this powerful story about Jews being drawn to Israel from around the world, Mat Staver, chairman of Christians in Defense of Israel and Liberty Counsel, said. Filmed in the Holy Land and featuring a multitude of guests, Why Israel Matters explores how such a small country plays such an important role in the world. It reveals how the miracle nation sprung up from its biblical roots and went through a heartbreaking history after having its two temples destroyed and becoming a scattered people, finally reemerging as an independent nation, just as the prophets foretold, and today is the role model of a hopeful, persevering and courageous nation, inspiring the world throughout with its successes in every field. Each week, host Mati Shoshani, an expert on Israeli history and the director of operations at TBN, the worlds largest religious television network, guides viewers through the fascinating elements of Israels still-unfolding narrative. In the first episode, called Homecoming, Shoshani presents three stories that capture the beauty of the Jewish people coming home to their ancient homeland. Peppering his narration with quotes from the Bible, in the first story, Shoshani interviews Jews from Kaifeng, China, revealing how even in a far-off region, they never lost touch with their roots. Jin Jin, a Chinese Jew speaking in broken Hebrew, recalls her father telling her about her heritage One day you must return to Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel], Jin says her father told her. Because it is the land that God has given us. Former member of Knesset, Pnina Tamano-Shata, the first Ethiopian-born woman to hold a position in the Knesset, and Hanna Goslar, a Holocaust survivor who lived next to Anne Frank while their two families found refuge in Amsterdam, echoed Jin Jins feelings after their trials and tribulations in the country where they were born, there was only one place that they could truly call home. There has never been a more important time for Christians and others of good will across America and around the world to stand in solidarity with the nation and people of Israel, said Staver. Why Israel Matters is designed to help viewers grow in their understanding of the strong bond each of us shares with Israel through our faith, our heritage and our worldview. Every viewer will be inspired and empowered to be thoughtful, compelling participants in the global conversation about Israel. The next three episodes will be: Neighbors, how Israel has survived and thrived in the hostile Middle East; Miracles, a look at Israels advances in technology, agriculture and military security; and Survivors, how Israels past gives its citizens courage and perseverance to thrive and prosper. Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin Prev Article Naddaf: As surviving Christian, Im proud to be Israeli What’s your Israel story? Next Article

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March 7, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Thousands attend rally to Stand Against Hate – Philly.com

Thousands of people of many faiths and backgrounds filled Independence Mall on Thursday in a Stand Against Hate, to protest the recent desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis, and a spate of bomb threats to Jewish community centers and day schools. About 100 headstones were discovered toppled at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Wissinoming on Sunday. It was the second reported act of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in weeks. Headstones at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis were discovered damaged on Feb. 20. As the demonstration began at noon in front of Independence Hall, there were reports of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, N.Y. The rally was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which estimated that as many as 5,000 people filled the expanse on Independence Mall. In the crowd was the Rev. Donna Maree, an Episcopal priest who is rector of Trinity Memorial Church in Center City. Maree said she had just come back from a visit to Israel with a group of Christians and Jews on Feb. 23, just days before the news of the toppled headstones at Mount Carmel in Northeast Philadelphia made headlines and news coverage worldwide. “We talked to Palestinians, Jewish Israelis, Ethiopian Jews,” said Maree, who made the trip with the Jewish Community Relations Council, which is part of the Jewish Federation. “People want peace,” Maree said. She said she has had contact with Jewish people in Israel about the spate of hate incidents targeting cemeteries, schools and community centers. “It’s disappointing to Jews in Israel that people here have turned to hate.” The Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, was also at the rally. He said hewas saddened by the recent incidents and that it was important to speak out. “I am reminded of the quote by Martin Niemoller,” Tyler said, a reference to the Protestant pastor who spoke out against Adolf Hitler by noting persecution of one group after another, when nothing was said. It ends: “Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.” I am incredibly heartened by the outpouring of so many generations of people who are taking their time to come out in the cold to stand against hate, said Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation. She urged those in the crowd — blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics; Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists to take the spirit of the rally back to their homes and communities. Share your stories of what justice, love, and mercy are, Adler said. Among the speakers was Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who got loud applause when he said he had just spent time in Washington telling President Trump that vandalism and bomb threats were hate crimes and needed to be treated as such. To my fellow Jews, Shapiro said, today it is us, tomorrow it will be LGBTQ people, and another day it will be our African American brothers and sisters or our Latino brothers and sisters. But no matter who is being targeted, we are all less safe. Max Buchdahl, 21, a junior at Temple University and president of Hillel at Temple, said he was encouraged by the gathering of so many people at the place where American democracy was born. Its great to see this many people here, and its incredible that its across faiths and across racial groups, Buchdahl said. He added that he and other Temple students, Jewish and non-Jewish, went to Mount Carmel, at Frankford and Cheltenham Avenues, to help with restoration efforts. Also in the crowd was Amnah Ahmad, 29, associate director of the Arab American Development Corp. at Al-Aqsa Mosque in North Philadelphia. She carried a sign that read, Islam = Peace. We came to show love and peace to the Jewish community, Ahmad said. As she talked to reporters, Barry Ungar, 73, of Haverford, who is Jewish, walked up to her and said, “Any attacks against you are attacks against us.” He continued: “I never thought I would see in my lifetime this kind of danger and fear.” Also at the rally were two other Jewish groups, If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace. Spokespersons for both said that while they condemned the vandalism against Jewish cemeteries, they also condemned hate crimes against Muslims, African Americans and others. “We stand here as Jews with our fellow Jews,” said Ezra Nepon, a spokesman for Jewish Voice for Peace. “We’re so glad that they have condemned all kinds of oppression.” Published: March 2, 2017 3:47 PM EST | Updated: March 2, 2017 6:09 PM EST

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NBA Star Amar’e Stoudemire Awarded MLK Prize in Jerusalem – Forward

On Sunday, former NBA player and now Israeli basketball star Amare Stoudemire, was awarded Israels Martin Luther King Jr. Award, given to individuals who embody the spirit and ideals of Dr. King. I am truly honored to be receiving this amazing award, said Stoudemire, who signed a two-year contract with Israels Hapoel Jerusalem club last year. In a video to his Instagram followers, Stoudemire stood against the night skyline of Jerusalem and described the award as honoring my courage to be an Israelite and also to be able to work and talk about equality to all nations. Every Black History Month, the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the State of Israel give out this award to individuals who promote diversity and tolerance, a press release read. Stoudemire runs the Amare and Alexis Stoudemire Foundation with his wife, Alexis which supports at-risk youth around the world, according to the foundationss website. In Israel, Stoudemire is continuing his philanthropic work. He hosted a basketball peace camp this summer, which drew participants from a range of distinct Israeli communities, including Palestinians, Hebrew Israelites and Ethiopian Jews. Stoudemire also hosted another childrens camp at the Israel Museum, part of an annual series called In The Paint, which joins together basketball and art activities. Israeli officials lauded Stoudemire. Stoudemire has again set an example that sportsmanship supersedes nationality, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, said Russell F. Robinson, CEO of Jewish National Fund-USA. Robinson said that all of these qualities are welcome in Israel, a country he called a beacon of democracy in an otherwise turbulent part of the world. Amare Stoudemire has spearheaded many initiatives that empower the less fortunate and advance important principles like tolerance, peace, creativity and healthy living, said Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York. Past recipients of Israels MLK Award have included former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, the author Toni Morrison, entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Harry Belafonte. When Stoudemire signed his deal with Hapoel in early August moving to Jerusalem with his entire family his spiritual and professional paths converged. Stoudemire has been on a years long journey into religion and heritage, a path that has fascinated and at times bewildered, American Jews and Israelis. He is not Jewish, as some continue to report, but a Hebrew Israelite meaning he views the Torah as an ancestral record of African Americans, and sees the land of Israel as part of his heritage. Stoudemire maintains close ties with the Hebrew Israelites of Dimona, and even executive produced a documentary film about that community. Stoudemire regularly peppers his social media with biblical quotes. If your ancestors were brought to America, or any other part of the world by slave ship, you are from the ancient tribe of the Hebrew Israelites, Stoudemire said in a February 2016 YouTube video alongside a Hebrew Israelite pastor in Chicago. This is black history, this is true black history. Despite the praise from Israeli officials, since the move to Jerusalem Stoudemire has faced some adversity. The Stoudemires 12-year-old son, Deuce, was barred from playing games with Hapoel Jerusalems youth team because he is not an Israeli citizen. Deuce was invited to play baseball instead. Stoudemire has also clashed with Israeli basketball referees on a number of occasions, even taking to social media to rail against the officials. I have witnessed the worst officiating in the world of basketball, Stoudemire wrote on Instagram. Way to discourage other top players from coming to play in Israel. Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

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