Tracing the Steps of Ethiopian Jewry on Their Way to Israel

Feb. 21 2018

Having traveled to the Ethiopian village of Ambover—once home to a significant Jewish community—accompanied by Jews who left the country for Israel as children or teenagers, Miriam Seiden describes what she learned and saw:

Our [group’s] introduction to Ethiopia was the Red Terror Martyrs’ Museum in Addis Ababa, a memorial to the victims tortured, imprisoned, and killed for their political beliefs under the Marxist Derg regime, which overthrew Haile Selassie and ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987. Here we began to learn about the struggle of the Ethiopian people and the cruelty they endured. . . .

In the Ambover synagogue, which remains intact thanks to private donors, we were spellbound by the emotional story that Belaynesh Zevadia, [who left the village for Israel when she was thirteen], shared of her brother Yosef’s three-year imprisonment for teaching Hebrew. Her father, the village kes (the Ethiopian Jewish equivalent of a rabbi), lived in the synagogue most of that time, sleeping on the floor and praying that his son would be released.

[We also attempted] to walk in the footsteps of those who escaped through the Semien Mountains to Sudan [in 1984, from which they were airlifted to safety by Israel]. Children and elders had marched alongside their families, trying to avoid loose stones on the trails. Some died over the course of their long journey, a proper burial all but impossible, and babies were born in this rugged but stunning mountain range.

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More about: Ethiopia, Ethiopian Jews, History & Ideas, Israeli history, Sudan

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror