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February 05, 1982 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-02-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Boris Smolar's

`Between You
. . . and Me'

Editor-in-Chief
Emeritus, JTA

(Copyright 1982, JTA, inc.)

THE FALASHA ISSUE: A serious dispute is now
developing in the American Jewish community over the
rescuing of more than 25,000 black Jews — the Falashas —
from Ethiopia. They have been living there in slavery and
inhuman degradation ever since the their ancestors left the
of Israel — more than 2,500 years ago, after the
/ estruction of the First Temple — and trekked through
Egypt to Ethiopia.
Decimated by slavery and starvation from a commu-
nity of about 200,000 to their present number, the Jews in
Ethiopia are now "in a desperate situation which
calls for rescue efforts of highest priority," according
to a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the
Council of Jewish Federations last November. Efforts in
this direction are being made by the Jewish Agency which
attempts to bring them to Israel, but these efforts are meet-
ing with extreme difficultues. The present regime in
Ethiopia is strongly pro-Soviet and anti-Zionist. Diploma-
tic relations with Israel have been broken. Black Jews are
arrested, and tortured, when discovered writing letters to
Israel or receiving letters from there. Involved is the risk of
lives for these seeking emigration to Israel and for mem-
bers of their families.
Some 1,200 Ethiopian Jews have reached Israel during
the last few years, but since May 1981 only seven arrived in
Israel. There is no way of influencing the Ethiopian gov-
ernment through friendly governments to permit Falasha
emigration as has been done by U.S. intervention with the
Kremlin in the case of Jewish emigration from the Soviet
Union.

BAN ON ORT-JDC OPERATIONS: Meanwhile, the
situation of the Jews in Ethiopia is going from bad to worse,
especially in the province of Gondar where most of them are
concentrated in remote villages as sharecroppers working
on the land which they are not permitted to own under a
decree issued in the 15th Century. The governor of this
province is a ruthless dictator.
In 1976 the Ethiopian government permitted ORT to
develop a joint ORT-JDC program of constructive relief,
including Jewish education, health services and religious
activities for the Falashas. However, last year the governor
of Gondar province revoked the permission. During the five
years of ORT-JDC operations, the Falashas were provided
with cattle, seed and fertilizer, tools and modern agricul-
tural instruction. Others were trained in carpentry, metal
work, Welding, pottery, sewing and other crafts.. A flour
mill was established in a building constructed by the vil-
lagers themselves.
In this brief five-year period, 22 schools were estab-
lished under the ORT-JDC program in the Gondar prov-
ince, with 83 classes and an enrollment of 3,000 students.
Water projects, combined with improvement in sanitation
and hygiene — and intensification by the ORT-JDC of the
maintenance of 19 wells — have considerably lowered the
infant mortality rate among Falashas, which ran in the
past as high as 40 percent, due largely to water-borne
diseases.
But then came the ban on ORT-JDC.
ISRAEL'S STAND: The Jews in Ethiopia — they
don't like to be called Falashas because the word "Falasha"
means "stranger" or "sharecropper" — have been hoping
for emigration to Israel ever since the state of Israel was
established. To them the Land of Israel is the land of their
forefathers.
There is no doubt that the Israel government and the
Jewish Agency would like to see all of them brought to
Israel. The rabbinate in Israel has ruled that the Falashas
are not just a sect practicing Judaism, but descendants of
the ancient Hebrews; They are Torah-religious and prac-
tice holidays mentioned in the Bible. They do not observe
Hanuka and Purim because the events marking these holi-
ays took place after the destruction of the First Temple.
For this reason they also don't know of the Talmud.
REVERBERATIONS IN THE U.S.: An organiza-
tion named American Association for Ethiopian Jews
(AAEJ) is now functioning in the United States. It claims a
national membership of 7,000 and it is the principal critic of
the Jewish Agency which, it claims, is not doing enough to
rescue the Ethiopian Jews from annihilation.
The AAEJ also charges certain leading American
Jewish bodies with following the line of the Jewish Agency,
and with not presenting to the American public — not even
to American Jews — the tragic situation of the Jews in
Ethiopia. It demands that the major Jewish organizations
in this country should organize demonstrations and mas-
sive protests against Ethiopia's treatment of the Falashas
in the same manner as this is being done for the Jews in the
Soviet Union.

Synagogues Asked to Push
Aliya From North America

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Sev-
eral proposals on how more
American Jews might be
induced to settle in Israel
were presented at the an-
nual conference of the Asso-
ciation of Americans and
Canadians in Israel.
One suggestion was that
every synagogue in the U.S.
and Canada purchase an
apartment in Israel and
allo* each family in the
congregation to spend a
half-year in it. The idea is
that at least some of the
families would decide to
stay on in apartments of

Shostack OKs
Controversial
Cancer Drug

their own.
Other suggestions were
for synagogues to offer each
Bar Mitzva boy a gift in the
form of a free trip to Israel
and for American Jewish
communities to sponsor the
first year in Israel for new
immigrants from their area.

Hungary Grants
Status to PLO

BUDAPEST — The
Palestine Liberation
Organization office here has
been granted official dip-
lomatic status by the Hun-
garian Government. The
move was made as Yasir
Arafat, head of the PLO, vi-
sited the country.

Friday, February 5, 1982

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OPEN WED. CLOSED SAT.

TEL AVIV (JTA) —
Health Minister Eliezer
Shostak has approved the
controlled use of the Israel-
developed anti-cancer drug,
DMBG, denied to Reuven
Maayan, a terminal cancer
patient, because of legal
complications.
Maayan died Saturday, a
day after the Supreme
Court, to which he had ap-
pealed for permission to be
given the drug, issued its
decision upholding the ban
on legal grounds.
Shostak said he was giv-
ing the go-ahead order at
the express request of Pre-
mier Menahem Begin, who
was reportedly deeply
moved by dramatic and
emotional radio and televi-
sion interviews with
Maayan only days before
his death.
But the Weizmann Insti-
tute of Science, where the
drug is being tested, said
Tuesday its researchers
thought it was still too early
to license the drug for
human use, as a number of
animal experiments still
remained to be completed.
But an Institute scientist
said the drug appeared not
to be dangerous. It has re-
portedly been administered
to several cancer patients
abroad.

4tg,zeezied

AMW Launches
Member Drive

NEW YORK — The
American Mizrachi Women
(AMW) will launch its 1982
membership campaign with
an "AMW Shabat" to be
marked in synagogues
across the country Satur-
day.
On Sunday, AMW will re-
ceive the Jewish National
Fund's Maccabean Award
at the 42nd annual Macca-
bean Award Dinner in New
York.

Percentage Down

TEL AVIV (ZINS) — The
percentage of the Jewish
population in Israel de-
clined between 1969-1979
from 85.6 percent to 83.9
percent.
In 1979, the Jewish popu-
lation was 3,218,400 and
the non-Jewish population
617,000 (16.1 percent).

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