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December 16, 1983 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-12-16

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

Friday, December 16, 1983 31

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Falasha Backs Israeli Efforts in Ethiopia

NEW YORK (JTA) — An
Ethiopian Jew who emi-

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grated to Israel more than
25 years ago and is now in-
timately involved with
helping new olim from
Ethiopia adjust to their new
environment in Israel
warned against "outside in-
tervention" in the efforts to
rescue the Falashas. He did
not elaborate on what he
meant by "outside interven-
tion."

Matityahu Elias, em-
ployed by the Jewish Agen-
cy's immigration and ab-
sorption department, said
Israel's effort to rescue
Ethiopian Jews has been
successful and despite "in-
tense difficulties," Falashas
were leaving their country
and reaching Israel.
The 38-year-old Elias is

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in the United States to
begin an eight-city tour to
meet with local Jewish
leaders and others involved
in Ethiopian Jewry. The
tour, sponsored by the
Zionist Organization of
America, will seek to dispel
the mixed signals and mis-
conceptions that have sur-
rounded Israel's rescue ef-
forts, according to Ivan
Novick, chairman of the
board of the ZOA.
Elias came to Israel in
1956 where he completed
high school in Kfar Batya
and later graduated from
an ORT school. He fought
in the 1967 Six-Day War
as well as in the 1973 Yom
Kippur War. While in the
Israel Defense Force, he
met his wife, a sabra, and
they now live at Kibutz
Netzer Sereni with their
three children.
Speaking to reporters at a
news conference at the na-
tional headquarters of the
ZOA, Elias praised the work
of "responsible and profes-
sional" groups ill the rescue
of Ethiopian Jews. "We will
never be satisfied until all of
Ethiopia's 20,000 Jews have
reached Israel," he said, al-
though he warned that "any
other intervention
endangers the Falashas."
Since the fall of the gov-
ernment of Emperor Haile
Selassie in 1974 and the
subsequent Marxist
takeover, Elias said that
government's land reform
program has enabled a
handful of Jews to own some
farms, although a great
majority remain tenant
farmers, living in poverty.
He said, however, that the
land reform program has
not helped many Jews
whose land ownership is op-
posed strongly by Coptic
Christians.
The absorption process in
Israel is not easy for
Falashas when they arrive,
Elias said. He said the few
thousand that are now in Is-
rael in 15 absorption cen-
ters' "have a great hunger
for learning. They come
with little or nothing but a
burning desire to learn.
"They have never seen
a telephone, never ridden
in an elevator, never used
a sink or flushed a toilet,
never turned on an elec -
tric light. Truly, they
have lived under primi-
tive conditions," Elias
said.
Elias serves as a trans-
lator, ombudsman and
guide. He said the current
government in Ethiopia is
"not anti-Falasha but anti-
religious."

Dour Prediction

JERUSALEM (ZINS) —
Israeli Finance Minister
Yigal Cohen-Orgad predicts
that many Israeli workers
will be forced from their jobs
in the service sector of Is-
rael's economy and into in-
dustry and export.
He expects real income
for Israelis to drop 10 per-
cent in 1984 and inflation to
reach 200 percent.
Goods and services cost-
ing IS 3,680 in 1980 now
cost IS 56,000 ($560).

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Ethiopian government
policy permits religious in-
struction only at home.
Jewish religious schools
that formerly taught He-
brew and the traditions of
Jewish people have been
closed, he said.

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