A New Exodus from Ethiopia

The city of Gondar in Ethiopia is home to only one synagogue, used by the Falash Mura community. As Cnaan Lipshiz explains, its members identify as the descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity around 200 years ago, sometimes under duress. In recent weeks, two flights brought a total of 300 members of the Falash Mura to settle in Israel, in an operation organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel and funded by a wide range of Jewish organizations.

Over the past 40 years, Israel has haltingly allowed thousands of Falash Mura to immigrate, with the aim of reuniting families of Ethiopian Jews in Israel and ultimately leaving none behind in Ethiopia, a poor African nation where the average life expectancy is 67 years. [Last week’s] flight is one of the first since Israel re-opened immigration for a small number of Falash Mura last year.

Kefale Tayachew Damtie, a father of six from Gondar, [and one of the expectant immigrants], has not seen his mother in years but has not told her that he’s coming. “I’ll do it right before I board the plane to Israel. I don’t want to disappoint her,” said Damtie, fifty-six, who lives with his wife and children in a rented 300-square-feet room with no running water.

“I have been waiting to leave because this is not my home. These are not my people. I am Jewish and Zion is my country,” said Damtie. [He] and his whole family wore their best clothes as they loaded their only possessions—a serving dish and some clothing—onto a pickup truck bound for Gondar airport, en route to Addis Ababa ahead of the final flight to Israel.

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Read more at JTA

More about: Aliyah, Ethiopian Jews, Falash Mura

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy