Archive for the ‘Ethiopian Jews’ Category

Falasha Black Jews of Ethiopia – Tripod.com

Origins of Abyssinian Jews

The early days of the Beta ‘Esra’el (House of Israel) community in Abyssinia remain a mystery. There is no doubt that the roots of Judaism were influential in this part of Africa at a very early date –perhaps even as far back as the First Temple period. Since there are no factual data from those times, and given the Ethiopian Jews’ racial resemblance to native Ethiopians, various theories have been proposed concerning the origins of the community, based on superficial research of their traditions, customs and roots.

Many aspects of Ethiopian culture still show traces of Judaic influence. The Abyssinian Church is considered very close to ancient Judaism, with customs such as circumcision, a form of Sabbath observance, dietary laws similar to those found in the Tora, and other practices preserved in its doctrine. We know that before the spread of Christianity in the 4th century CE, the Mosaic faith was practiced in Abyssinia, alongside the idol worship which still remains widespread. See Moses — was the lawgiver of Israel an Ethiopian?

According to Ethiopia national legend, the founder of the royal dynasty, whose last monarch was Negus (Emperor) Haile Selassie –the symbolic and titular “Lion of Judah” –was the son of the Queen of Sheba (Makida, according to the legend) and King Solomon. See Solomon’s Temple. The son, Menelik, as an educated adult, returned to his father in Jerusalem, and then resettled in Ethiopia together with many members of the Israelite tribes, including priests and Levites. He also smuggled the Ark of the Covenant and the Tablets of the Law out from Jerusalem, and brought them to Aksum, capital of ancient Abyssinia. The Jews of Ethiopia do not generally accept this legend, and take it to be mere fabrication. However, this old tradition only strengthens what we know from other sources –that there was an early Jewish influence in Abyssinia . For Biblical ties, see http://robt.shepherd.tripod.com/spiritual-africa.html

A 9th-century tradition, based on the story of Eldad ha-Dani (the Danite), maintains that during the rift between Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and Jeroboam, son of Nebat –leaders of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel respectively –the tribe of Dan chose not to be drawn into tribal disputes. To avoid the impending civil war they resettled in Egypt. Once there, the Danites continued southwards up the Nile to the historic Land of Cush (today in Sudan and Ethiopia) and found it to be rich in resources. Eldad ha-Dani himself was probably from this area. According to his report, members of the tribes of Naftali, Gad and Asher lived there together with the Danites, and he himself could trace his ancestry back to Dan, son of Jacob.

This tradition, which may have a certain Biblical basis, is also found in other medieval sources. Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro came across two Abyssinian Jewish prisoners of war in Egypt in the late 15th century and wrote that they claimed to be descended from the tribe of Dan. Rabbi David ben-Zimra (RaDBaZ) ruled in his 16th century responsa that the Jews of Ethiopia were unquestionably Danites who had settled in Abyssinia, possibly even before the Second Temple period. The tradition appears to have been widely held by the Jews of Abyssinia and the surrounding areas until recently, though this is no longer the case today.

At the time when the Ten Tribes were exiled to Assyria (during the reign of King Hosea, son of Elah of Israel, approximately one century before the First Temple was destroyed and Judah was exiled), the Prophet Isaiah prophesied the End of Days, when the dispersed people of Israel and Judah would be gathered in from their place of exile. Cush is one of the places mentioned.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, that shall remain from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather together the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12)

The return of the people living “beyond the rivers of Abyssinia” to “the place of the name of the Lord of Hosts” is prophesied in detail in Isaiah 18:7 and Zephania 3:10. These sources are sufficient to demonstrate Jewish presence in Ethiopia towards the end of the First Temple period.

After the destruction of the First Temple, the Jewish community in Egypt expanded. Findings discovered at the beginning of this century in Yev (Elephantine) in southern Egypt on the Nile, near Aswan (the area of Biblical Pathros) indicate there were Jewish communities near the Sudanese border dating at least to the Return to Zion in the Persian period. The Jews of Yev, like those of Abyssinia, built a temple and performed sacrifices, but did not reject the sanctity of Jerusalem and its Temple. Similarly, Onias’ Temple, in Lower Egypt, dates from the Second Temple period. Other similarities in traditions and special customs support the evidence of a link between the ancient Egyptian Jews and those of Ethiopia.

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Beta Israel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beta Israel (Hebrew: , Beyte (beyt) Yisrael; Ge’ez: , Bta ‘Isr’l, modern Bte ‘Isr’l, EAE: “Bet srael”, “House of Israel” or “Community of Israel”[4]), also known as Ethiopian Jews (Hebrew: : Yehudey Etyopyah; Ge’ez: , ye-Ityoppya Ayhudi), are Jewish communities located in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires (Habesha or Abyssinia), currently divided between Amhara and Tigray regions.[5]

Beta Israel lived in North and North-Western Ethiopia, in more than 500 small villages spread over a wide territory, among populations that were Muslim and predominantly Christian.[6] Most of them were concentrated in the area around Lake Tana and north of it, in the Tigray Region; among the Wolqayit, Shire and Tselemt and Amhara Region of Gonder regions; among the Semien Province, Dembia, Segelt, Quara, and Belesa.

The Beta Israel made renewed contacts with other Jewish communities in the later 20th century. After Halakhic and constitutional discussions, Israeli officials decided on March 14, 1977 that the Israeli Law of Return applied to the Beta Israel.[7] The Israeli and American governments mounted aliyah operations[8] to transport the people to Israel.[9] These activities included Operation Brothers in Sudan between 1979 and 1990 (this includes the major operations Moses and Joshua), and in the 1990s from Addis Ababa (which includes Operation Solomon).[10][11]

The related Falash Mura are the descendants of Beta Israel who converted to Christianity. Some are changing to the practices of Halakhic Judaism, and living together in communities. Beta Israel spiritual leaders, including Liqa Kahnet Raphael Hadane, have argued for the acceptance of the Falash Mura as Jews.[12] The Israeli government decided by a resolution in 2003 that descendants of Jewish mothers’ lineage have the right to migrate to Israel under the Entry Law; they may become citizens only if they formally convert to Orthodox Judaism.[13] This resolution has been controversial within Israeli society.[14][15][16][17]

Most of the 119,500 Ethiopian Israelis as of 2009 were born in Israel. 38,500 or 32% of the community had at least one parent born in Ethiopia.[18]

Throughout its history, the community has been referred to by numerous names. According to tradition the name “Beta Israel” originated in the 4th century CE, when the community refused to convert to Christianity during the rule of Abreha and Atsbeha (identified with Se’azana and Ezana), the monarchs of the Aksumite Empire who embraced Christianity.[19] This name stands opposite to “Beta Christian” (Christianity).[20][21] It did not originally have negative connotations, and the community has used it since as its official name. Since the 1980s, it has also become the official name used in the scientific literature to refer to the community.[22] The term Esra’elawi (Israelites)which is related to the name Beta Israelis used by the community to refer to its members.[22]

The name Ayhud (Jews) is rarely used in the community, as the Christians used it as a derogatory term. The community only has begun to use it since strengthening ties with other Jewish communities in the 20th century.[22] The term ‘Ivrawi (Hebrews) was used to refer to the Chawa (free man) in the community, in contrast to Barya (slave).[23] The term Oritawi (Torah-true) was used to refer to the community members; since the 19th century it has been used in opposition to the term Falash Mura (converts).

The major derogatory term, Falasha (foreigners/exiles), was given to the community by the Emperor Yeshaq in the 15th century. Agaw, referring to the Agaw people, the original inhabitants of northwest Ethiopia, is considered derogatory since it incorrectly associates the community with the pagan Agaw.[22]

Haymanot (Ge’ez: ) is the colloquial term of the Jewish religion in the community.[24]

Maf Kedus (Holy Scriptures) is the name for the religious literature. The language of the writings is Ge’ez. The holiest book is the Orit (from Aramaic “Oraita” “Torah”) which consists of the Five Books of Moses and the books Joshua, Judges and Ruth. The rest of the Bible has secondary importance. The Book of Lamentations is not part of the canon.

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The History of Ethiopian Jewry | United with Israel

The Ethiopian Jewish heritage is a rich and ancient one that deserves to be remembered. According to the Ethiopian historian Yohanes Zeleke, Ethiopian oral Jewish tradition maintains that Jews came to Ethiopia in stages, the earliest one being during the time of the famine in Canaan, when Abraham was forced to flee southwards. Ethiopian Jews believe that other waves include during the times of slavery in Egypt; during the reign of Manasseh of Judah, who sought to forcefully convert Jews into pagans; and another group came accompanying Melinik I, the son of King Solomon. Additional Jews are reported to arrive in Ethiopia following the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

From the 7th century BCE up until 330 AD, Judaism was the official state religion of Ethiopia. However, Ethiopia became a Christian country when the Ethiopian Emperor Ezana converted to Christianity. The Christians behaved very brutally to the Jews in Ethiopia, resulting in them revolting and overthrowing their Christian overlords. In the 9th century, Ethiopia became a Jewish country again under the leadership of Queen Yeodit. However, following three additional centuries of Jewish rule, Egypt grew wary of the growing power of Jewish Ethiopia and united with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to overthrow the Jewish government in Ethiopia. Following the regime change in Ethiopia, countless Ethiopian Jews were murdered, sold into slavery, or forcefully converted to Christianity.

Judiths Field, an area of ruined buildings which according to tradition were destroyed by Queen Judith, a medieval Ethiopian Jewish queen

From the 14th century onward, with the brief exception of the rule of one Jewish emperor named Tewodros II in the 1800s, the vast majority of Ethiopian Jews were forced to live as powerless and exploited landless peasants. However, in 1624, Jews did seek to regain their autonomy around the same time that Muslims in Ethiopia were also revolting against a policy of forced conversion, yet ended up instead committing a mass suicide that had an uncanny resemblance to Masada rather than be taken prisoner. At that time, all Ethiopian Jewish religious and history books were burnt as an attempt to eradicate Ethiopias Jewish heritage.

In the 20th century, the plight of Ethiopian Jews was very dire. When Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam rose to power in a coup dtat, 2,500 Jews were slaughtered and 7,000 additional Jews became homeless. Mariams Marxist ideology encouraged anti-semitism within Ethiopia. In the 1980s, Ethiopia forbade the practice of Judaism and the teaching of Hebrew. Countless Ethiopian Jews were imprisoned on fabricated charges of being Zionist spies and Ethiopian Jewish rabbis, known as Kesim, were constantly harassed by the Ethiopian government. Furthermore, forced military conscription took Jewish boys as young as 12 years old away from their families, who often never heard from their children again. Yet, to make matters even worse, a famine erupted around this time period as well.

Ethiopian Synagogue in Wolleka

While over 8,000 Ethiopian Jews came to Israel between 1977 and 1984, most Ethiopian Jews were still in Ethiopia in 1984. Although Operation Moses which occurred between November 18, 1984 and January 5, 1985 brought 7,000 Jews to Israel, it came at a great humanitarian cost. In order to reach Israel, Ethiopian Jews were forced to march to Sudan at night, while hiding during the day from robbers and soldiers. 4,000 Ethiopian Jews would perish trying to make Aliyah, either from the poor sanitary conditions in the refugee camps in Sudan, from starvation along the way, disease, or from murder, and countless Ethiopian Jewish women were raped while trying to reach Israel.

However, after that point, the remainder of Ethiopian Jews, principally the elderly, the sick and small children who were unable to flee to Sudan, were stranded in Ethiopia. Over 1,600 Ethiopian Jewish children did not know the fate of their parents. It was only when rebels overthrew the Mariam dictatorship that Israel was able to rescue an additional 14,324 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia, during Operation Solomon, in 1991. Today, over 36,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel.

By Rachel Avraham

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Ethiopian Jews – Zionism & Israel

Zionism and Israel – Encyclopedic Dictionary

Ethiopian Jews (Falasha or Beta Yisrael) – The Jewish community of Ethiopia.

The People of Ethiopia, Jewish and Christian, share the belief that they are descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, through their son Menelik, who returned to Ethiopia with his attendants after studying in Jerusalem. Supposedly, they brought with them the original tablets of the law of Moses, purloined from the temple of Solomon, which are hidden in the city of Axum. Various other theories claim that the Falasha are the descendants of the tribe of Dan or other tribes exiled by the Babylonians, descendants of the Jews of Elephantine in Egypt who migrated south to Ethiopia, or descendants of one of several possible Jewish military expeditions, or that they are Africans who were converted at a later date. One theory (Kaplan 1994) insists that Ethiopian Jews are Christians who converted to Judaism at a very late date. The evidence for this is rather tenuous. What is certain is that Ethiopian Christianity has many Hebrew elements (see Kessler, 1996 for a review of theories of origin). It is also obvious that Kaplan is correct that regardless of the origin of Ethiopian Jews, their customs and culture cannot only be understood in the context of Ethiopia, and have many Ethiopian elements. At least some Ethiopian Jews are very likely descendants of a Christian monk, Abba Sabra, who converted to Judaism in the 15th century. and likewise converted Abba Saga a son of King Zar’a Yaqob who in turn converted others (Pankhurst, 1992).

Genetic studies have failed to find evidence for genetic closeness between Ethiopian and other Jews, with the possible exception of Yemenite Jews. (Hammer et. al. 2000, Rosenberg et. al. 2001, Thomas et. al. 2002 and Zoosman-Diskin et al. 1991).

There is no direct written evidence for the existence of the Falasha or Ethiopian Jews prior to the 14th century. It is claimed, and likely, that Muslim invasions prior to that period destroyed their records, as they destroyed much of Ethiopian culture.

Ethiopian Jews do not speak Hebrew as a holy tongue, but rather Ge’ez, a Semitic tongue of uncertain origin. In their own language they are not always referred to as “Jews” (ayhoud) a term that may also be used to refer to Christian heretics. Ethiopian Jews are called “Beta Yisrael” or (a somewhat derogatory term) “Falasha.” “Beta Israel” is evidently derived from “Beit Yisrael” – the house of Israel.

The Jews of Ethiopia were evidently cut off from the main body of the Jewish faith prior to the writing of the Talmud and developed their own oral tradition instead, based on the Orit (Torah) and the book of Ezra and several apocryphal books such as the book of Enoch and Barch, plus their own holy books which may or may not have an ancient Jewish origin. These include the Arde’et, Acts of Moses, Apocalypse of Gorgorios, Meddrash Abba Elija, and biographies of the nation’s forebears: Gadla Adam, Gadla Avraham, Gadla Ishak, Gadla Ya’kov, Gadla Moshe, Gadla Aaron, Nagara Musye, Mota Musye, the Te’ezaza Sanbat (percepts of the Sabbath) Sefer Cahen – priestly functions and Sefer Sa’aat (Book of the hours). The last named book seems to have an origin in similar books of the Christian tradition. The Abu Shaker. dating from the 13th century, lists civil and lunar dates for Jewish feasts, including Matqe’ (New Year), Soma Ayhud or Badr (Yom Kippur), Masallat (Sucot), Fesh (Passover), and Soma Dehnat (Fast of Salvation) or Soma Aster (Fast of Esther). (Shelemay, 1989 pp 42-53). The Beta Israel have a unique holiday, known as Seged or Sigd, that falls on the 29th of the Jewish month of Heshvan. In the past the day was called Mehella – similar to an Ethiopian Christian holiday. The acts of bowing and supplication are still known as mehella. Sigd celebrates the giving of the Torah and the return from exile in Babylonia to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah. According to the tradition of Beta Israel, ition holds that Sigd commemorates Ezra’s proclamation against the Babylonian wives (Ezra 10:10-12). In Ethiopia, the Sigd was celebrated on hilltops outside villages. The location was called by several names, including Ya’arego Dabr (Mountain for making prayers) and in Amharic Yalamana Tarrara (Mountain of Supplication). The Kessim, equivalent to rabbis or elders of the community, drew a parallel between the ritual mountain and Mount Sinai. Another source described Sigd (calling it Amata Saww) as a new-moon holiday, after which the Kessim withdrew for a period of isolation.

Ethiopians observe Kashrut (Kosher) laws and ritual bathing. They do not eat food that was prepared by gentiles. However, there are many variations in the observances of various custums.

Falasha: Ethiopian Jewish family in Ethiopia

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Sudan connection: Are Ethiopian Jews descendants of the …

The conventional theory among historians today attributes the origin of the Ethiopian Jews to a separatist movement that branched out of Christianity and adopted Judaism between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries (e.g. Quirin, 1992a, 1992b; Shelemay, 1989; Kaplan, 1995). The theory essentially holds the Ethiopian Jews to be the descendants of indigenous non-Jewish Ethiopians, and their belief in ancient Jewish descent to be just a matter of myth and legend. Proponents of the theory have been praised for being thought-provoking (Waldron, 1993) and for demythologizing (Gerhart, 1993) the history of the group. Consequently, scholars, and historians in particular, have been steered to ignore the compelling evidence for the ancient origins of the group.

I will present the historical evidence which, with the support of crucial genetic findings, strongly suggests that todays Ethiopian Jews are the descendants of an ancient Jewish population. This study reinforces recent reviews of the DNA studies of the Ethiopian Jews (Entine, 2007) that have already pointed to major flaws in the traditional historical perspective. Furthermore, the latest research further suggests a strong historical affiliation between the Ethiopian Jews and Northern Sudan that is little discussed in literature. The paper analyzes the history of the Jews of Ethiopia in context of their peripheral geography in the Lake Tana area and the Semien.

The Beta Israel

Until they were forced to leave Ethiopia in the 1980s, Ethiopian Jews lived in small villages scattered in the northwestern region of the Ethiopian plateau around Lake Tana and in the Semien mountains area. They traditionally referred to themselves as the Beta Israel, and were referred to by other Ethiopians as Falasha, meaning strangers in the indigenous Semitic language Geez. Thus, the term Beta Israel will be used throughout this article to label the community.

The community has venerated the Old Testament of the Ethiopian Bible and its religious language has been Geez. Today, the Beta Israel show closest resemblance in external cultural characteristics to their surrounding Habash, i.e. the ethnic category that encompasses the Amhara and Tigray-Tigrinya populations. And although both the Habash-Christians and the Beta Israel claim royal descent from the time of King Solomon and Queen Sheba, an important difference exists (Entine, 2007, p.148-9). While the Christians claim descent from King Menelikthe offspring of Solomon and Sheba in Ethiopiathe Beta Israel claim descent from first-generation Israelites from the tribe of Dan who some believe accompanied Menelik as guards of honor.

To start with, the geographical definition of Ethiopia in historical sources must be addressed for it has distorted major studies on the history of the region. It wasnt until recently that scholars realized that the name Ethiopia, in ancient and medieval sources, denoted the Nile valley civilization of Kush, also known today as ancient Nubia, in what is today Northern Sudan. On the other hand, the geographical area that encompasses the modern country of Ethiopia had in the past housed the ancient kingdom of Aksum, which developed in the northern parts of the plateau, and was sometimes referred to as Abyssinia. It is also worth mentioning that all of the Biblical, and a significant portion of the ancient, references to Ethiopia, or Kush, predate the establishment of Aksum in the first century CE.

As I have argued in a former paper (Omer, 2009a), analyzing the history of the Beta Israel within the boundaries of the contemporary country of Ethiopia is a problematic approach. That is because the political boundaries of the modern day countries of Sudan and Ethiopia were only defined towards the early twentieth century. However, even after the boundaries were specified, the Beta Israel settlements remained at the periphery and far from the interior of todays Ethiopia, which is close to the western border region with Northern Sudan.

The political boundaries between the two states had remained, for the longest part of history, fluid and undefined in many areas. It was mostly the twentieth century borderline that defined the contemporary identity of the Beta Israel population as Ethiopian, and distinguished them from the populations of the flat plains of the Sudan, to the west. In other words, the Beta Israel have always represented a periphery population that, in the context of history, can never been seen as integral element of todays Ethiopia.

Theories of history

Before proceeding further, I will present a brief overview of the hypothesis that the Beta Israel emerged out of Ethiopias Christianity. The hypothesis is best argued by Quirin (1992a) and Kaplan (1995). Quirins argument is based on the premise that the Beta Israel identity has emerged out of a differential interaction with the Ethiopian state and dominant Abyssinian society (1998, p. 1). Kaplan (1995) follows the same line of argument and concludes that their Judaism, far from being an ancient precursor of Ethiopian Christianity, developed relatively late and drew much of its inspiration from the Orthodox Church (p. 157). They essentially argue that the religious substance of the Beta Israel has been adapted from the Jewish character already found in Ethiopias Christianity. Salamon (1999) also emphasizes the Christian roots of the Beta Israel, yet she leaves the question of the groups actual origins open to question. She argues that they constructed their identity in reference to their Christian neighbors, rather than to a Jewish other (p. 4).

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Why Ethiopian Jews are protesting police violence in …

By Guy Ben-Porat and Fany Yuval May 8

Israel, like Baltimore, has recently faced widespread protests against racial discrimination. Ethiopian Jews took to the streets after a video of a young Ethiopian soldier being beaten by police officers was widely circulated. The tepid response of the authorities, clashes with police during a protest in Jerusalem and the frustrations of young Ethiopians with what they describe as continuous discrimination, sparked the demonstration in Tel-Aviv that caught the attention of many Israelis. Like African Americans in Baltimore, Ethiopians complain not only of being targeted by police but also being subjected to police violence, an experience white Israelis are less likely to encounter.

Do police treat minorities differently? Minorities, especially visible minorities, are often certain they do, while police often dismiss these allegations and claim that police violence was justified or unrepresentative. Recorded police brutality that cannot be denied is explained in terms of bad apples officers that broke the rules to be dealt with by disciplinary action.

Systemic mistreatment of minorities, or police racism, is difficult to prove in general as data about stops, searches and arrests is either held by the police, or does not exist. However, there is evidence from efforts at reform in the United Statesand Canada that minority complaints are often justified. Furthermore, perceptions of prejudice can become self-reinforcing when they deepen distrust and shape encounters between citizens and police officers.

The real or perceived mistreatment of minorities can involve both under-policing and over-policing.

In under-policing, the police neglect minorities and their needs, absenting themselves themselves from minority neighborhoods they regard as hopeless and leaving poor urban communities to suffer from high crime rates. While citizens of various backgrounds may feel their communities are under-policed when police services fall short of needs and expectations, minorities, rightly or wrongly, perceive this as discrimination.

Over-policing implies mistreatment of minorities by the police, either by excessive use of force against minorities or by discriminatory practices. Racial profiling, the most common practice of over-policing, refers to the use of generalizations based on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin as the basis for suspicion in directing law enforcement. Minorities, especially visible minorities, will be stopped and searched more often than others, and may suffer from police violence. Over and under-policing are not mutually exclusive, in some cases minorities might suffer from both, eroding their trust of police.

For the past three years, we have been using surveys and focus groups to study perceptions of minorities in Israel towards police. Our initial findings help explain the recent surge of protest. Two groups stand out in their perceptions of police and policing: Arab citizens and Ethiopian immigrants. Arab citizens complain of both under-policing and over-policing. Arab towns suffer from high crime rates, violence and reckless driving, attributed by their residents to internal crisis and intentional police neglect. While under-policing is highly important, several incidents in which police officers gunned down Arab citizens have made headlines and generated uproar among the Arab community. Arab citizens, on the one hand, demand that police provide them with a level of service equal to Jewish citizens, but, on the other hand, are often alienated from police and distrust their intentions. Ethiopians, display a different pattern of alienation and distrust related to police violence and abuse. Various reports in recent years raised complaints of Ethiopian young men mistreated by police, often subjected to violence. In both cases, however, it seems that their marginal position in Israeli society explains their mistreatment by police.

Our survey includes 2,200 respondents from five different groups: Arab citizens, Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, Ultra-Orthodox Jews and a control group.

Among Arab citizens, under-policing is a major concern and seen as related to discrimination. Thus, 43 percent of the respondents believe policing in their neighborhood is of lower quality than in other neighborhoods, compared to only 13 percent of the control group who feel the same way.

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Rally of Israel’s Ethiopian Jews turns violent again – CBS …

Israelis from the Ethiopian community scuffle with Israeli security forces in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on May 03, 2015, during a protest called by members of the Ethiopian community against alleged police brutality and institutionalized discrimination. JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

JERUSALEM – Several thousand people, mostly from Israel’s Jewish Ethiopian minority, protested in Tel Aviv against racism and police brutality on Sunday shutting down a major highway and scuffling with police.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about 3,000 people took part in Sunday’s protest. He said it was mostly peaceful but there were some minor scuffles with police. Protesters blocked roads in central Tel Aviv as well as a main highway leading to the city.

It was the second such protest in several days and supporters say the demonstrations will continue. The first rally last week in Jerusalem turned violent.

The Jerusalem Post’s Ben Hartman reported police said five officer’s were hurt in Sunday’s rally.

Israel’s Ethiopian community was shaken last week when footage emerged of an Ethiopian Israeli in an army uniform being beaten by police.

Protestor’s marched in Tel Aviv, with some blowing whistles or chanting “violent police officers belong in jail.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will meet Monday with representatives of the community as well as the beaten solider.

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them secretly airlifted into the country in 1984 and 1990, but their absorption into Israeli society has been rocky.

2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Falasha Black Jews of Ethiopia – Tripod.com

Origins of Abyssinian Jews The early days of the Beta ‘Esra’el (House of Israel) community in Abyssinia remain a mystery. There is no doubt that the roots of Judaism were influential in this part of Africa at a very early date –perhaps even as far back as the First Temple period. Since there are no factual data from those times, and given the Ethiopian Jews’ racial resemblance to native Ethiopians, various theories have been proposed concerning the origins of the community, based on superficial research of their traditions, customs and roots. Many aspects of Ethiopian culture still show traces of Judaic influence. The Abyssinian Church is considered very close to ancient Judaism, with customs such as circumcision, a form of Sabbath observance, dietary laws similar to those found in the Tora, and other practices preserved in its doctrine. We know that before the spread of Christianity in the 4th century CE, the Mosaic faith was practiced in Abyssinia, alongside the idol worship which still remains widespread. See Moses — was the lawgiver of Israel an Ethiopian? According to Ethiopia national legend, the founder of the royal dynasty, whose last monarch was Negus (Emperor) Haile Selassie –the symbolic and titular “Lion of Judah” –was the son of the Queen of Sheba (Makida, according to the legend) and King Solomon. See Solomon’s Temple. The son, Menelik, as an educated adult, returned to his father in Jerusalem, and then resettled in Ethiopia together with many members of the Israelite tribes, including priests and Levites. He also smuggled the Ark of the Covenant and the Tablets of the Law out from Jerusalem, and brought them to Aksum, capital of ancient Abyssinia. The Jews of Ethiopia do not generally accept this legend, and take it to be mere fabrication. However, this old tradition only strengthens what we know from other sources –that there was an early Jewish influence in Abyssinia . For Biblical ties, see http://robt.shepherd.tripod.com/spiritual-africa.html A 9th-century tradition, based on the story of Eldad ha-Dani (the Danite), maintains that during the rift between Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and Jeroboam, son of Nebat –leaders of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel respectively –the tribe of Dan chose not to be drawn into tribal disputes. To avoid the impending civil war they resettled in Egypt. Once there, the Danites continued southwards up the Nile to the historic Land of Cush (today in Sudan and Ethiopia) and found it to be rich in resources. Eldad ha-Dani himself was probably from this area. According to his report, members of the tribes of Naftali, Gad and Asher lived there together with the Danites, and he himself could trace his ancestry back to Dan, son of Jacob. This tradition, which may have a certain Biblical basis, is also found in other medieval sources. Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro came across two Abyssinian Jewish prisoners of war in Egypt in the late 15th century and wrote that they claimed to be descended from the tribe of Dan. Rabbi David ben-Zimra (RaDBaZ) ruled in his 16th century responsa that the Jews of Ethiopia were unquestionably Danites who had settled in Abyssinia, possibly even before the Second Temple period. The tradition appears to have been widely held by the Jews of Abyssinia and the surrounding areas until recently, though this is no longer the case today. At the time when the Ten Tribes were exiled to Assyria (during the reign of King Hosea, son of Elah of Israel, approximately one century before the First Temple was destroyed and Judah was exiled), the Prophet Isaiah prophesied the End of Days, when the dispersed people of Israel and Judah would be gathered in from their place of exile. Cush is one of the places mentioned. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, that shall remain from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather together the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12) The return of the people living “beyond the rivers of Abyssinia” to “the place of the name of the Lord of Hosts” is prophesied in detail in Isaiah 18:7 and Zephania 3:10. These sources are sufficient to demonstrate Jewish presence in Ethiopia towards the end of the First Temple period. After the destruction of the First Temple, the Jewish community in Egypt expanded. Findings discovered at the beginning of this century in Yev (Elephantine) in southern Egypt on the Nile, near Aswan (the area of Biblical Pathros) indicate there were Jewish communities near the Sudanese border dating at least to the Return to Zion in the Persian period. The Jews of Yev, like those of Abyssinia, built a temple and performed sacrifices, but did not reject the sanctity of Jerusalem and its Temple. Similarly, Onias’ Temple, in Lower Egypt, dates from the Second Temple period. Other similarities in traditions and special customs support the evidence of a link between the ancient Egyptian Jews and those of Ethiopia.

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August 7, 2015   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Beta Israel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beta Israel (Hebrew: , Beyte (beyt) Yisrael; Ge’ez: , Bta ‘Isr’l, modern Bte ‘Isr’l, EAE: “Bet srael”, “House of Israel” or “Community of Israel”[4]), also known as Ethiopian Jews (Hebrew: : Yehudey Etyopyah; Ge’ez: , ye-Ityoppya Ayhudi), are Jewish communities located in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires (Habesha or Abyssinia), currently divided between Amhara and Tigray regions.[5] Beta Israel lived in North and North-Western Ethiopia, in more than 500 small villages spread over a wide territory, among populations that were Muslim and predominantly Christian.[6] Most of them were concentrated in the area around Lake Tana and north of it, in the Tigray Region; among the Wolqayit, Shire and Tselemt and Amhara Region of Gonder regions; among the Semien Province, Dembia, Segelt, Quara, and Belesa. The Beta Israel made renewed contacts with other Jewish communities in the later 20th century. After Halakhic and constitutional discussions, Israeli officials decided on March 14, 1977 that the Israeli Law of Return applied to the Beta Israel.[7] The Israeli and American governments mounted aliyah operations[8] to transport the people to Israel.[9] These activities included Operation Brothers in Sudan between 1979 and 1990 (this includes the major operations Moses and Joshua), and in the 1990s from Addis Ababa (which includes Operation Solomon).[10][11] The related Falash Mura are the descendants of Beta Israel who converted to Christianity. Some are changing to the practices of Halakhic Judaism, and living together in communities. Beta Israel spiritual leaders, including Liqa Kahnet Raphael Hadane, have argued for the acceptance of the Falash Mura as Jews.[12] The Israeli government decided by a resolution in 2003 that descendants of Jewish mothers’ lineage have the right to migrate to Israel under the Entry Law; they may become citizens only if they formally convert to Orthodox Judaism.[13] This resolution has been controversial within Israeli society.[14][15][16][17] Most of the 119,500 Ethiopian Israelis as of 2009 were born in Israel. 38,500 or 32% of the community had at least one parent born in Ethiopia.[18] Throughout its history, the community has been referred to by numerous names. According to tradition the name “Beta Israel” originated in the 4th century CE, when the community refused to convert to Christianity during the rule of Abreha and Atsbeha (identified with Se’azana and Ezana), the monarchs of the Aksumite Empire who embraced Christianity.[19] This name stands opposite to “Beta Christian” (Christianity).[20][21] It did not originally have negative connotations, and the community has used it since as its official name. Since the 1980s, it has also become the official name used in the scientific literature to refer to the community.[22] The term Esra’elawi (Israelites)which is related to the name Beta Israelis used by the community to refer to its members.[22] The name Ayhud (Jews) is rarely used in the community, as the Christians used it as a derogatory term. The community only has begun to use it since strengthening ties with other Jewish communities in the 20th century.[22] The term ‘Ivrawi (Hebrews) was used to refer to the Chawa (free man) in the community, in contrast to Barya (slave).[23] The term Oritawi (Torah-true) was used to refer to the community members; since the 19th century it has been used in opposition to the term Falash Mura (converts). The major derogatory term, Falasha (foreigners/exiles), was given to the community by the Emperor Yeshaq in the 15th century. Agaw, referring to the Agaw people, the original inhabitants of northwest Ethiopia, is considered derogatory since it incorrectly associates the community with the pagan Agaw.[22] Haymanot (Ge’ez: ) is the colloquial term of the Jewish religion in the community.[24] Maf Kedus (Holy Scriptures) is the name for the religious literature. The language of the writings is Ge’ez. The holiest book is the Orit (from Aramaic “Oraita” “Torah”) which consists of the Five Books of Moses and the books Joshua, Judges and Ruth. The rest of the Bible has secondary importance. The Book of Lamentations is not part of the canon.

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May 20, 2015   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

The History of Ethiopian Jewry | United with Israel

The Ethiopian Jewish heritage is a rich and ancient one that deserves to be remembered. According to the Ethiopian historian Yohanes Zeleke, Ethiopian oral Jewish tradition maintains that Jews came to Ethiopia in stages, the earliest one being during the time of the famine in Canaan, when Abraham was forced to flee southwards. Ethiopian Jews believe that other waves include during the times of slavery in Egypt; during the reign of Manasseh of Judah, who sought to forcefully convert Jews into pagans; and another group came accompanying Melinik I, the son of King Solomon. Additional Jews are reported to arrive in Ethiopia following the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. From the 7th century BCE up until 330 AD, Judaism was the official state religion of Ethiopia. However, Ethiopia became a Christian country when the Ethiopian Emperor Ezana converted to Christianity. The Christians behaved very brutally to the Jews in Ethiopia, resulting in them revolting and overthrowing their Christian overlords. In the 9th century, Ethiopia became a Jewish country again under the leadership of Queen Yeodit. However, following three additional centuries of Jewish rule, Egypt grew wary of the growing power of Jewish Ethiopia and united with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to overthrow the Jewish government in Ethiopia. Following the regime change in Ethiopia, countless Ethiopian Jews were murdered, sold into slavery, or forcefully converted to Christianity. Judiths Field, an area of ruined buildings which according to tradition were destroyed by Queen Judith, a medieval Ethiopian Jewish queen From the 14th century onward, with the brief exception of the rule of one Jewish emperor named Tewodros II in the 1800s, the vast majority of Ethiopian Jews were forced to live as powerless and exploited landless peasants. However, in 1624, Jews did seek to regain their autonomy around the same time that Muslims in Ethiopia were also revolting against a policy of forced conversion, yet ended up instead committing a mass suicide that had an uncanny resemblance to Masada rather than be taken prisoner. At that time, all Ethiopian Jewish religious and history books were burnt as an attempt to eradicate Ethiopias Jewish heritage. In the 20th century, the plight of Ethiopian Jews was very dire. When Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam rose to power in a coup dtat, 2,500 Jews were slaughtered and 7,000 additional Jews became homeless. Mariams Marxist ideology encouraged anti-semitism within Ethiopia. In the 1980s, Ethiopia forbade the practice of Judaism and the teaching of Hebrew. Countless Ethiopian Jews were imprisoned on fabricated charges of being Zionist spies and Ethiopian Jewish rabbis, known as Kesim, were constantly harassed by the Ethiopian government. Furthermore, forced military conscription took Jewish boys as young as 12 years old away from their families, who often never heard from their children again. Yet, to make matters even worse, a famine erupted around this time period as well. Ethiopian Synagogue in Wolleka While over 8,000 Ethiopian Jews came to Israel between 1977 and 1984, most Ethiopian Jews were still in Ethiopia in 1984. Although Operation Moses which occurred between November 18, 1984 and January 5, 1985 brought 7,000 Jews to Israel, it came at a great humanitarian cost. In order to reach Israel, Ethiopian Jews were forced to march to Sudan at night, while hiding during the day from robbers and soldiers. 4,000 Ethiopian Jews would perish trying to make Aliyah, either from the poor sanitary conditions in the refugee camps in Sudan, from starvation along the way, disease, or from murder, and countless Ethiopian Jewish women were raped while trying to reach Israel. However, after that point, the remainder of Ethiopian Jews, principally the elderly, the sick and small children who were unable to flee to Sudan, were stranded in Ethiopia. Over 1,600 Ethiopian Jewish children did not know the fate of their parents. It was only when rebels overthrew the Mariam dictatorship that Israel was able to rescue an additional 14,324 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia, during Operation Solomon, in 1991. Today, over 36,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. By Rachel Avraham

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May 20, 2015   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Ethiopian Jews – Zionism & Israel

Zionism and Israel – Encyclopedic Dictionary Ethiopian Jews (Falasha or Beta Yisrael) – The Jewish community of Ethiopia. The People of Ethiopia, Jewish and Christian, share the belief that they are descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, through their son Menelik, who returned to Ethiopia with his attendants after studying in Jerusalem. Supposedly, they brought with them the original tablets of the law of Moses, purloined from the temple of Solomon, which are hidden in the city of Axum. Various other theories claim that the Falasha are the descendants of the tribe of Dan or other tribes exiled by the Babylonians, descendants of the Jews of Elephantine in Egypt who migrated south to Ethiopia, or descendants of one of several possible Jewish military expeditions, or that they are Africans who were converted at a later date. One theory (Kaplan 1994) insists that Ethiopian Jews are Christians who converted to Judaism at a very late date. The evidence for this is rather tenuous. What is certain is that Ethiopian Christianity has many Hebrew elements (see Kessler, 1996 for a review of theories of origin). It is also obvious that Kaplan is correct that regardless of the origin of Ethiopian Jews, their customs and culture cannot only be understood in the context of Ethiopia, and have many Ethiopian elements. At least some Ethiopian Jews are very likely descendants of a Christian monk, Abba Sabra, who converted to Judaism in the 15th century. and likewise converted Abba Saga a son of King Zar’a Yaqob who in turn converted others (Pankhurst, 1992). Genetic studies have failed to find evidence for genetic closeness between Ethiopian and other Jews, with the possible exception of Yemenite Jews. (Hammer et. al. 2000, Rosenberg et. al. 2001, Thomas et. al. 2002 and Zoosman-Diskin et al. 1991). There is no direct written evidence for the existence of the Falasha or Ethiopian Jews prior to the 14th century. It is claimed, and likely, that Muslim invasions prior to that period destroyed their records, as they destroyed much of Ethiopian culture. Ethiopian Jews do not speak Hebrew as a holy tongue, but rather Ge’ez, a Semitic tongue of uncertain origin. In their own language they are not always referred to as “Jews” (ayhoud) a term that may also be used to refer to Christian heretics. Ethiopian Jews are called “Beta Yisrael” or (a somewhat derogatory term) “Falasha.” “Beta Israel” is evidently derived from “Beit Yisrael” – the house of Israel. The Jews of Ethiopia were evidently cut off from the main body of the Jewish faith prior to the writing of the Talmud and developed their own oral tradition instead, based on the Orit (Torah) and the book of Ezra and several apocryphal books such as the book of Enoch and Barch, plus their own holy books which may or may not have an ancient Jewish origin. These include the Arde’et, Acts of Moses, Apocalypse of Gorgorios, Meddrash Abba Elija, and biographies of the nation’s forebears: Gadla Adam, Gadla Avraham, Gadla Ishak, Gadla Ya’kov, Gadla Moshe, Gadla Aaron, Nagara Musye, Mota Musye, the Te’ezaza Sanbat (percepts of the Sabbath) Sefer Cahen – priestly functions and Sefer Sa’aat (Book of the hours). The last named book seems to have an origin in similar books of the Christian tradition. The Abu Shaker. dating from the 13th century, lists civil and lunar dates for Jewish feasts, including Matqe’ (New Year), Soma Ayhud or Badr (Yom Kippur), Masallat (Sucot), Fesh (Passover), and Soma Dehnat (Fast of Salvation) or Soma Aster (Fast of Esther). (Shelemay, 1989 pp 42-53). The Beta Israel have a unique holiday, known as Seged or Sigd, that falls on the 29th of the Jewish month of Heshvan. In the past the day was called Mehella – similar to an Ethiopian Christian holiday. The acts of bowing and supplication are still known as mehella. Sigd celebrates the giving of the Torah and the return from exile in Babylonia to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah. According to the tradition of Beta Israel, ition holds that Sigd commemorates Ezra’s proclamation against the Babylonian wives (Ezra 10:10-12). In Ethiopia, the Sigd was celebrated on hilltops outside villages. The location was called by several names, including Ya’arego Dabr (Mountain for making prayers) and in Amharic Yalamana Tarrara (Mountain of Supplication). The Kessim, equivalent to rabbis or elders of the community, drew a parallel between the ritual mountain and Mount Sinai. Another source described Sigd (calling it Amata Saww) as a new-moon holiday, after which the Kessim withdrew for a period of isolation. Ethiopians observe Kashrut (Kosher) laws and ritual bathing. They do not eat food that was prepared by gentiles. However, there are many variations in the observances of various custums. Falasha: Ethiopian Jewish family in Ethiopia

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May 20, 2015   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Sudan connection: Are Ethiopian Jews descendants of the …

The conventional theory among historians today attributes the origin of the Ethiopian Jews to a separatist movement that branched out of Christianity and adopted Judaism between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries (e.g. Quirin, 1992a, 1992b; Shelemay, 1989; Kaplan, 1995). The theory essentially holds the Ethiopian Jews to be the descendants of indigenous non-Jewish Ethiopians, and their belief in ancient Jewish descent to be just a matter of myth and legend. Proponents of the theory have been praised for being thought-provoking (Waldron, 1993) and for demythologizing (Gerhart, 1993) the history of the group. Consequently, scholars, and historians in particular, have been steered to ignore the compelling evidence for the ancient origins of the group. I will present the historical evidence which, with the support of crucial genetic findings, strongly suggests that todays Ethiopian Jews are the descendants of an ancient Jewish population. This study reinforces recent reviews of the DNA studies of the Ethiopian Jews (Entine, 2007) that have already pointed to major flaws in the traditional historical perspective. Furthermore, the latest research further suggests a strong historical affiliation between the Ethiopian Jews and Northern Sudan that is little discussed in literature. The paper analyzes the history of the Jews of Ethiopia in context of their peripheral geography in the Lake Tana area and the Semien. The Beta Israel Until they were forced to leave Ethiopia in the 1980s, Ethiopian Jews lived in small villages scattered in the northwestern region of the Ethiopian plateau around Lake Tana and in the Semien mountains area. They traditionally referred to themselves as the Beta Israel, and were referred to by other Ethiopians as Falasha, meaning strangers in the indigenous Semitic language Geez. Thus, the term Beta Israel will be used throughout this article to label the community. The community has venerated the Old Testament of the Ethiopian Bible and its religious language has been Geez. Today, the Beta Israel show closest resemblance in external cultural characteristics to their surrounding Habash, i.e. the ethnic category that encompasses the Amhara and Tigray-Tigrinya populations. And although both the Habash-Christians and the Beta Israel claim royal descent from the time of King Solomon and Queen Sheba, an important difference exists (Entine, 2007, p.148-9). While the Christians claim descent from King Menelikthe offspring of Solomon and Sheba in Ethiopiathe Beta Israel claim descent from first-generation Israelites from the tribe of Dan who some believe accompanied Menelik as guards of honor. To start with, the geographical definition of Ethiopia in historical sources must be addressed for it has distorted major studies on the history of the region. It wasnt until recently that scholars realized that the name Ethiopia, in ancient and medieval sources, denoted the Nile valley civilization of Kush, also known today as ancient Nubia, in what is today Northern Sudan. On the other hand, the geographical area that encompasses the modern country of Ethiopia had in the past housed the ancient kingdom of Aksum, which developed in the northern parts of the plateau, and was sometimes referred to as Abyssinia. It is also worth mentioning that all of the Biblical, and a significant portion of the ancient, references to Ethiopia, or Kush, predate the establishment of Aksum in the first century CE. As I have argued in a former paper (Omer, 2009a), analyzing the history of the Beta Israel within the boundaries of the contemporary country of Ethiopia is a problematic approach. That is because the political boundaries of the modern day countries of Sudan and Ethiopia were only defined towards the early twentieth century. However, even after the boundaries were specified, the Beta Israel settlements remained at the periphery and far from the interior of todays Ethiopia, which is close to the western border region with Northern Sudan. The political boundaries between the two states had remained, for the longest part of history, fluid and undefined in many areas. It was mostly the twentieth century borderline that defined the contemporary identity of the Beta Israel population as Ethiopian, and distinguished them from the populations of the flat plains of the Sudan, to the west. In other words, the Beta Israel have always represented a periphery population that, in the context of history, can never been seen as integral element of todays Ethiopia. Theories of history Before proceeding further, I will present a brief overview of the hypothesis that the Beta Israel emerged out of Ethiopias Christianity. The hypothesis is best argued by Quirin (1992a) and Kaplan (1995). Quirins argument is based on the premise that the Beta Israel identity has emerged out of a differential interaction with the Ethiopian state and dominant Abyssinian society (1998, p. 1). Kaplan (1995) follows the same line of argument and concludes that their Judaism, far from being an ancient precursor of Ethiopian Christianity, developed relatively late and drew much of its inspiration from the Orthodox Church (p. 157). They essentially argue that the religious substance of the Beta Israel has been adapted from the Jewish character already found in Ethiopias Christianity. Salamon (1999) also emphasizes the Christian roots of the Beta Israel, yet she leaves the question of the groups actual origins open to question. She argues that they constructed their identity in reference to their Christian neighbors, rather than to a Jewish other (p. 4).

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May 18, 2015   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Why Ethiopian Jews are protesting police violence in …

By Guy Ben-Porat and Fany Yuval May 8 Israel, like Baltimore, has recently faced widespread protests against racial discrimination. Ethiopian Jews took to the streets after a video of a young Ethiopian soldier being beaten by police officers was widely circulated. The tepid response of the authorities, clashes with police during a protest in Jerusalem and the frustrations of young Ethiopians with what they describe as continuous discrimination, sparked the demonstration in Tel-Aviv that caught the attention of many Israelis. Like African Americans in Baltimore, Ethiopians complain not only of being targeted by police but also being subjected to police violence, an experience white Israelis are less likely to encounter. Do police treat minorities differently? Minorities, especially visible minorities, are often certain they do, while police often dismiss these allegations and claim that police violence was justified or unrepresentative. Recorded police brutality that cannot be denied is explained in terms of bad apples officers that broke the rules to be dealt with by disciplinary action. Systemic mistreatment of minorities, or police racism, is difficult to prove in general as data about stops, searches and arrests is either held by the police, or does not exist. However, there is evidence from efforts at reform in the United Statesand Canada that minority complaints are often justified. Furthermore, perceptions of prejudice can become self-reinforcing when they deepen distrust and shape encounters between citizens and police officers. The real or perceived mistreatment of minorities can involve both under-policing and over-policing. In under-policing, the police neglect minorities and their needs, absenting themselves themselves from minority neighborhoods they regard as hopeless and leaving poor urban communities to suffer from high crime rates. While citizens of various backgrounds may feel their communities are under-policed when police services fall short of needs and expectations, minorities, rightly or wrongly, perceive this as discrimination. Over-policing implies mistreatment of minorities by the police, either by excessive use of force against minorities or by discriminatory practices. Racial profiling, the most common practice of over-policing, refers to the use of generalizations based on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin as the basis for suspicion in directing law enforcement. Minorities, especially visible minorities, will be stopped and searched more often than others, and may suffer from police violence. Over and under-policing are not mutually exclusive, in some cases minorities might suffer from both, eroding their trust of police. For the past three years, we have been using surveys and focus groups to study perceptions of minorities in Israel towards police. Our initial findings help explain the recent surge of protest. Two groups stand out in their perceptions of police and policing: Arab citizens and Ethiopian immigrants. Arab citizens complain of both under-policing and over-policing. Arab towns suffer from high crime rates, violence and reckless driving, attributed by their residents to internal crisis and intentional police neglect. While under-policing is highly important, several incidents in which police officers gunned down Arab citizens have made headlines and generated uproar among the Arab community. Arab citizens, on the one hand, demand that police provide them with a level of service equal to Jewish citizens, but, on the other hand, are often alienated from police and distrust their intentions. Ethiopians, display a different pattern of alienation and distrust related to police violence and abuse. Various reports in recent years raised complaints of Ethiopian young men mistreated by police, often subjected to violence. In both cases, however, it seems that their marginal position in Israeli society explains their mistreatment by police. Our survey includes 2,200 respondents from five different groups: Arab citizens, Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, Ultra-Orthodox Jews and a control group. Among Arab citizens, under-policing is a major concern and seen as related to discrimination. Thus, 43 percent of the respondents believe policing in their neighborhood is of lower quality than in other neighborhoods, compared to only 13 percent of the control group who feel the same way.

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May 14, 2015   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Rally of Israel’s Ethiopian Jews turns violent again – CBS …

Israelis from the Ethiopian community scuffle with Israeli security forces in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on May 03, 2015, during a protest called by members of the Ethiopian community against alleged police brutality and institutionalized discrimination. JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images JERUSALEM – Several thousand people, mostly from Israel’s Jewish Ethiopian minority, protested in Tel Aviv against racism and police brutality on Sunday shutting down a major highway and scuffling with police. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about 3,000 people took part in Sunday’s protest. He said it was mostly peaceful but there were some minor scuffles with police. Protesters blocked roads in central Tel Aviv as well as a main highway leading to the city. It was the second such protest in several days and supporters say the demonstrations will continue. The first rally last week in Jerusalem turned violent. The Jerusalem Post’s Ben Hartman reported police said five officer’s were hurt in Sunday’s rally. Israel’s Ethiopian community was shaken last week when footage emerged of an Ethiopian Israeli in an army uniform being beaten by police. Protestor’s marched in Tel Aviv, with some blowing whistles or chanting “violent police officers belong in jail.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will meet Monday with representatives of the community as well as the beaten solider. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them secretly airlifted into the country in 1984 and 1990, but their absorption into Israeli society has been rocky. 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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