د.جعفر هادي حسن المهاجرون إلى إسرائيل والتاركون لها

التقرير الذي أصدرته الوكالة اليهودية في أسرائيل عن عدد المهاجرين الذين وصلوا إليها لسنة2006  أصاب المسؤولين بالقلق والذعر حيث بلغ العدد فيها اقل من عشرين الفا مع أن رئيس الوكالة اليهودية كان قد توقع بأن الرقم للسنة المذكورة هو أربعة وعشرون الفا. ومع أن عدد المهاجرين بدأ بالتناقص منذ العام2004 إلا أن عدد السنة الماضية هوالاقل منذ ثمانية عشرة سنة على الرغم مما تبذله الوكالة اليهودية من جهود في إرسال مبعوثيها الكثر إلى مناطق العالم المختلفة وما تقدمه من  محفزات للمهاجرين اليها من سكن مريح ومنح مالية كبيرة وغيرهما .ومما زاد الطين بلة أن عدد التاركين لها يزداد من سنة إلى أخرى وهم يهاجرون منها ويتركونها على الرغم من أن الدولة قد وضعت موانع مادية ونفسية ودينية أمام من يريد ترك البلد. كأن يرجع المهاجر المبالغ التي صرفتها الدولة عليه  كما يطلق عليهم”رسميا” صفة سلبية وهي “يُرديم” وتعني الهابطين أو المنحدرين إلى ألأسفل(الأدنون)(والكلمة من الجذر العبري “يرد” (بمعنى انحدر أو هبط إلى ألأسفل).كما أن الحاخامين شددوا كثيرا على حرمة ترك اسرائيل لفترة طويلة لمن اتخذها سكنا له حتى شمل تحريمهم الشخص الذي يريد أن يسافرمن أجل مساعدة أبويه المسنين ولم يمنع هؤلاء ما يوصفون به وما يطلق عليهم، وفضلو مغادرة إسرائيل والبحث عن حياة أفضل بعد أن أصبحت حياتهم في إسرائيل محفوفة بالمشاكل والمخاطروالكثير من هؤلاء هم من الروس.ومن جانب آخرتطلق الدولةعلى الذين يهاجرون إليها صفة “عوليم”(من الجذر العبري عله=علا بالعربية) وهي صفة تتضمن مدحا وهي تعني الصاعدين إلى الأعلى أو المرتقين(الأعلون) .بل إن الصفة تتسم بشيئ من القدسية فالذي ينادى عليه لقراءة التوراة بالكنيس يقال عنه أدى”العالياه”والذي يهاجر إلى إسرائيل يقال عنه إنه قام بالعالياه وكأنه قام بعمل مقدس..
ويعتقد أن أحد أسباب تناقص اعداد المهاجرين هو انخفاض عدد المهاجرين الروس حيث وصلت نسبتهم إلى أقل من عشرة بالمئة في السنة المذكورة. ويعطي  افرايم سنيه نائب وزير الدفاع سببا آخر لذلك وهووجود البرنامج النووي الإيراني الذي قال عنه ” إنه يخيف المهاجرين ويخيف السكان بصورة عامة” بينما قال آخرون بأن الوضع غير المستقر في الشرق الأوسط ساهم في هذا التناقص.
ومن الإحصائيات النادرة التي نشرتها وزارة الاستيعاب عن المهاجرين من إسرائيل وذكرتها صحيفة هآرتس في عددها بتاريخ 19/11/2003 بأن مئات الآلاف من الإسرائيليين قد غادروا البلد ولكن اندرو كلغور ناشر تقريردبليو ارام اي اي يقول إنه ليس من مصلحة إسرائيل أن تذكر الأرقام الحقيقية للمهاجرين منها.
. وهو يؤكد بأن هناك مليونا أو أكثر في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وحدها من هؤلاء،وهو يشير إلى ما ذكرته النيويورك تايمز في عددهافي 22/12/1980 بأنه حتى عام 1980م كان قد هاجر نصف مليون إسرائيلي إلى الولايات المتحده الأمريكية. وهو يضيف بأن نصف مليون آخر كان قد هاجر حتى عام 2000م. وهذا عدا عن الأعداد التي هاجرت إلى دول أخرى. وطبقا لما ذكرته صحيفة هآرتس (11/11/2000) إن المهاجرين إلى الولايات المتحده من إسرائيل يكونون 60% من مجموع المهاجرين كما ذكرت الصحيفة نفسها بأن ثلث الإسرائيليين يرغبون في الهجرة منها.. وكانت إسرائيل قد بنت آمالا كبيرة على المهاجرين الروس ( يقصد بهم المهاجرون من الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق وليس روسيا وحدها) في نهاية الثمانينيات وبداية التسعينيات، حيث بلغ عددهم  مليون مهاجرأو أكثر قليلا. ولكن الذي تبين فيما بعد بأن ثلث هؤلاء على الأقل هم ليسوا يهودا وأن الكثير منهم مسيحيون وآخرون مشكوك في يهوديتهم بسبب تزويرهم لوثائق أو غير ذلك من أسباب. كما إن عددا كبيرا من المعترف بيهوديتهم لم يهاجروا بدافع صهيوني.بل بدوافع أخرى بعضها اقتصادية وبعضها خوفا من العداء من السامية أوتحقيق حياة أفضل وغير ذلك. وقد اعترف المسؤولون الإسرائيليون بهذه الحقيقة وقالوا “إن الحقيقة هي أن هؤلاء الروس ليسو صهاينة وهم قد جاؤوا إلى هنا لأنه ليس هناك بلد آخر يريدهم..وقال بعض هؤلاء المهاجرين “إن سبب مجيئنا هو سبب اقتصادي، إذ كانت حياتنا في الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق في منتهى الصعوبة وأخذت قيمة رواتبنا تقل كلما تقدم الزمن”. وأن منهم من ندم على مجيئه إلى إسرائيل وقال: “إننا صدقنا بالكثير من الخيالات عن الدولة اليهودية وقد تبين أنها قصص غير صحيحة”. وقد صدم المهاجرون الروس بسبب عدم حصولهم على عمل أو حصولهم على عمل أقل بكثير مما تؤهلهم له شهاداتهم. وقد قال مسؤول قسم الهجرة في الوكالة اليهودية في بداية التسعينات: “إن عملية استيعاب المهاجرين تمر في أزمة وأن الحكومة ليس عندها جواب لقضية البطالة”. وفي استطلاع أجري بين المهاجرين الروس للفترة نفسها قال ثلاثون بالمئة منهم أنهم سيهاجرون من إسرائيل. وفي إحصائية لمجلة جيروسلم ربورت (25-12-1997) أن 8% من المهاجرين الروس قد تركوا إسرائيل إلى الغرب ولكن مقالات تنشر على الإنترنت من قبل المهاجرين أنفسهم تذكر بأن العدد أكثر من ذلك بكثير. كما أن الكثير من هؤلاء رجعوا إلى روسيا.وفي تقرير حديث من سفارة إسرائيل في موسكوفي عام 2006 أن عدد الروس الذين عادوا إلى روسيا  قد تضاعف ست مرات منذ ثلاث سنوات. كما قامت أعداد قليلة من هؤلاء في السنوات الماضية بتقديم طلبات لجوء إلى دول أخرى، حيث ذهب بعضهم إلى ألمانيا من أجل هذا الغرض وطلب بعضهم اللجوء إلى جنوب أفريقيا كما أن البعض الآخر قدم طلب اللجوء إلى هولندا وقد وجدوا صعوبة في الحصول على موافقة هذه البلدان ولكن كندا وافقت على استقبال عدة مئات منهم وكاد ذلك أن يحدث أزمة في العلاقات مع إسرائيل (جيروسلم ريبورت 8/9/94) وفي ربيع عام 2003م كتبت الواشنطن بوست مقالة أشار فيها كاتبها إلى الجموع المحتشدة من الإسرائيليين أمام سفارات كندا والولايات المتحدة الأمريكية واستراليا للهجرة إلى هذه البلدان. بل ذكرت المقالة أن جموعا احتشدت أمام السفارة التشيكية والبولندية. وأثناء الإنتفاضة الفلسطينية الثانية  أخذت أعداد كبيرة من الإسرائيليين من أصول ألمانية تقف أمام السفارة الألمانية للحصول على جواز سفر وهؤلاء هم أبناء وأحفاد اليهود الألمان الذين انتزع منهم الحكم النازي جنسياتهم، حيث يحق لهؤلاء طبقا للقانون الألماني الحصول على الجنسية الألمانية. وقد تضاعف عدد الذين يطالبون بالحصول على جواز سفر في تلك الإنتفاضة. وذكرت صحيفة ديلي تلغراف (2/4/2004م) بأن السفارة الألمانية قد اضطرت إلى تقنين عدد المراجعين لها من هؤلاء. ويتحدث بعض الذين هاجروا إلى ألمانيا عن سعادتهم ويقارنون بين الوضع المستقر في ألمانيا وبين الوضع في إسرائيل، الذي خيب أملهم-كما يقولون- . ويحدث هذا على الرغم من ظاهرة العداء لليهود اليوم في أوروبا. وتذكر الصحيفة أيضا بأن أكثر من نصف اليهود في إسرائيل حصلوا على جوازات أخرى لاستعمالها عند الضرورة. ومن المحتمل أن يزداد عدد المهاجرين من إسرائيل بعد أن انضم  عدد من الدول الأوربية في الفترة ألأخيرة إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي حيث توجد جاليات كبيرة من هذه الدول في إسرائيل. وكانت إسرائيل قد تطلعت بشغف إلى جلب يهود الأرجنتين الذين يبلغ عددهم اكثر من مئتي ألف شخص عندما عصفت أزمة حادة باقتصاد هذا البلد قبل بضع سنين. وكانت الوكالة اليهودية تعمل عى إقناعهم بالهجرة وتشجيعهم عليها. ولكن نسبة الذين هاجروا كانت ضئيلة جدا . وفضل هؤلاء الهجرة إلى إسبانيا والمكسيك وإيطاليا والولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. وذكرت جيروسلم ربورت 14/1/2002 أن الوكالة اليهودية تقوم اليوم بجلب فتيان من هذه الجالية إلى إسرائيل ووضعهم في مدارس خاصة لفترة سنة على أمل أن تلتحق بهم عوائلهم بعد ذلك(ويبلغ عدد المهاجرين من الإرجنتين الذين استوطنوا إسرائيل  منذ العام1948 حوالي سبعين ألفا) كما أنها ستجلب أعدادا من هؤلاء الفتيان من دول أخرى لنفس الغرض. وفي بداية التسعينات كانت الوكالة اليهودية ووزارة التربية قد أعلنتا بأنهما ستشجعان الفتيان من روسيا على ترك عوائلهم والهجرة إلى إسرائيل. وكان وزير التربية قد قال يومها بأنه يأمل أن يترك آلاف من الفتيان الروس عوائلهم ويهاجرون إلى إسرائيل. وتركز الوكالة اليهودية اليوم على إغراء يهود فرنسا والمملكة المتحدة والولايات المتحدة ألأمريكية. ولكن هذه المحاولات لم تنجح في إقناع أعداد كبيرة منهم في الهجرة إلى إسرائيل. ومازال هؤلاء يصرون على البقاء حيث هم.وفي هذه السنة(2007) قام رئيس الوكالة اليهودية الجديد زئيف بيالسكي بزيارة لندن لإقناع اليهود بالهجرة وقال لهم في كلمة له”إن اسرائيل هي المكان الوحيد الذي يمكن لليهودي أن يعيش فيه يهوديا  ولا يفكر بذلك مرتين” وبدأت إسرائيل بتهجير الفلاشا مورا -المشكوك في يهوديتهم- منذ سنين لينضموا إلى الفلاشا الآخرين الذين مازال الكثير منهم غير معترف بيهوديتهم من قبل المؤسسة الدينية في الدولة.وهي تهجر منهم بضع مئات كل شهر منذ سنين دون ضجيج. وإلى جانب المحاولات الرسمية لجلب أكبر عدد ممكن من اليهود أو المشكوك في يهوديتهم، فإن هناك جمعيات أهلية تقوم ببحث مكثف عما يسمى بقبائل بني إسرائيل الضائعة. وهذه الفكرة قائمة أساسا على ما جاء في التوراة من أن الآشوريين قد نفوا هذه القبائل وشتتوها في بلدان مختلفة بعد أن قضوا على السامرة في القرن الثامن قبل اليلاد. وتقول هذه الجمعيات إنها اكتشفت في الفترة الأخيرة بضع مئات من هذه القبائل في البيرو وجلبتهم إلى إسرائيل، كما اكتشفت – كماتقول – بضعة آلاف على الحدود بين الهند ومينمار(بورما) حيث يدعي هؤلاء بأنهم من أحفاد منسًة بن يوسف بن يعقوب!! وقد جلبت منهم بضع مئات إلى إسرائيل وهناك الآلاف ينتطرون التهجير. و مازال أعضاء هذه الجمعيات يجوبون البلدان طولا وعرضا في آسيا وأفريقيا وأمريكا اللاتينية بحثا عن هؤلاء اليهود الضائعين بل إن هذه الجمعيات تحاول تهويد قبائل كبرى مسلمة تسكن الحدود الأفغانية الباكستانية بحجة أنها ترجع في أصولها إلى القبائل الضائعة.ومع ذلك فإن المصادر الإسرائيلية تتوقع بأن عدد المهاجرين في هذه السنة الحالية سوف لايزيد على أربعة عشر الفا. ويبدو أن أمل أرئيل شارون الذي أعلن أثناء رئاسته للوزراء بأنه يأمل في تهجير مليون شخص إلى إسرائيل خلال عشر سنوات سوف لايتحقق. كما أن نسبة الولادة المتدنية بين اليهود الإسرائيليين هي أخبار سيئة للمسؤولين– الذين يرعبهم العامل الديمغرافي– خاصة وانها عند الفلسطينيين هي اكثر منها بكثير. وللمرء أن يتساءل- في ضوء كل هذا- فيما اذا كان المشروع الصهيوني قد حقق أهدافه أو أنه فشل في ذلك كما يرى بعض المراقبين الإسرائيليين، الذين يطالبون الدولة اليوم بتغيير جذري في سياستها نحو الفلسطينيين حفاظا على بقاء اليهود في هذه المنطقة..

In Israel by Dr. Jafar Hadi Hassan The idea of ​​choice and its role in the phenomenon

The idea of ​​choice and its role in the phenomenon of violence against the Palestinians in Israel Dr. Jafar Hadi Hassan The violence of Israeli Jews has not stopped since the emergence of the State, and it has been increasing as the time progresses and the occupation continues to become a clear phenomenon. That political circumstances may sometimes be a factor in this violence and cause, but one of the reasons rooted in the Jewish conscience, in my opinion, is the belief of the vast majority of Jews that they are chosen and distinct people, chosen by the God of God and their preference to the peoples. This idea was first emphasized in their book “The Torah” in many different places, and later in their literature as Talmud and then in the words of the rabbis. In the Torah we read in Deuteronomy 7: 6-8 In the following text, “Because you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and you have chosen the Lord your God to have a special people for him from among all the peoples on the face of the earth, not because you are more than all the nations. The Lord is to you, and preserve the oath which I swear to your fathers, and he brings you out with a strong hand and your delegation from the house of bondage from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. ” When the Talmud was published, statements were made to confirm and deepen this idea, while at the same time accompanying negative statements against non-Jews. In Sanhedrin one of the letters of the Talmud states that the Israelites are the pious who will inherit eternal life. In another letter, the work of the Israelites is always good, while others are only capable of doing evil. The rabbis took this idea into the minds of the Jews in various ways. Their rabbis have made many statements in this regard. These are the words of the most famous rabbis and philosophers Moses Maimonides: “Those who are outside the city are all people with no faith in him, not the theory and Tolklidip as the parties of Turk Almtgulin in the north, and the Sudan and the South and those who are like them, who are with us in these territories, And I do not have the rank of man, and they are from the ranks of the assets below the rank of the human, and higher than the rank of the monkey, since they got the shape of the human, and planning and discrimination above the discrimination of the monkey. The founder of the Lubavitch group, Rabbi Schnelman Zalman, said in his book Tanya: “The Jew has two souls: one is pure holiness, part of God, and this soul is only in the Jews, and another is animal, which provides man with life and is in the Jews and others. A mixture of good and evil. In non-Jews it is a pure evil, no good at all. ” This book, written by the author in Hebrew, has been issued at least sixty-five editions, which means the desire to acquire and the abundance of reading. His great grandson, Rabbi Mendel Schneerson, said that the body of the Jew is of a different origin than the bodies of all peoples. From these words, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Cook (1938), whose son Rabbi Zvi, the spiritual parents of the Zionist fundamentalists of today, And the non-Jewish soul, greater and deeper than the human soul and the animal’s soul. “Moreover, this belief entered their prayers by saying,” Praise be to God who has chosen us. ” This idea of ​​supremacy has been entrenched – because of its emphasis on Jewish vivisection and its lack of feeling, as well as the inferior view of others that accompanied the idea of ​​choice for Jews as well. I mentioned this idea also began with the Torah, for example, what is mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy 1: 7 And if the LORD will bring you into the land that you are in, to inherit it and expel many nations before you …. Seven nations are stronger and more powerful than you, and the Lord your God delivered them to your hands and beat them. He forbade them to boycott them (kill them for the last of them). Do not cut off a covenant with them, and do not disobey them, do not disobey them, give your daughter to his son, or take his daughter to your son. And they break their monuments and destroy their holy poles and burn their statues with fire. “This is another example that has deepened in the later literature until the present age. Therefore, non-Jews were given several negative traits, such as Gueim, Gnome, Kavrim, and others. In the Jewish tradition, the view of Ismail, who believes that Abu-Arab is not a positive one. The little son of Abraham was sacrificed, and the prophet Abraham offered to sacrifice him – as the Bible states – and did not offer Ishmael and that the Lord had established the covenant with him, not with Ishmael. And in their books also that the Lord offered to the Arabs the law, which he revealed and when they asked him about the mention of the Ten Commandments, of which do not kill do not steal do not weigh, the Arabs responded that they reject it and do not want it, and said that we want to practice these things. Their religious schools until today, and also call the Arabs Amalek, who according to the Torah are the enemies of the Hebrews of history. “One day the Lord will erase the mention of the Amalekites,” as they attributed to the Prophet Moses. The former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadia Yosef, described the Palestinians as Amalekites Time has been called upon them Many of Jehovah’s time to remove them out of existence. Thus, the minds of these Arabs have become a major part of this view, which is characterized by contempt and inferiority. It is therefore not surprising that the vast majority of Israeli schoolchildren describe Palestinians as murderers and thieves when they were surveyed a few years ago when asked about the definition of a Palestinian. The belief in this idea is also the belief that Palestine was given to the Jews alone and no one to share it with, as the other demonizes and deceives them, and taking them as they think and expelling them and killing them is a sacred act, because it cleanses them of this uncleanness. The overwhelming majority of immigrants took this view with them to Palestine. After the Declaration of the Balfour Declaration and the increase of the settlers in Palestine and the increase in their stature, they applied their view against the Palestinians. When he saw the Zionist leader of the Zionist movement, “Ahad Haaam,” he treated them with the Palestinians on this basis and on the basis of this view warned them of this. He told them in a well-known voice: “The Jews should not consider themselves superior to the Arabs; they should be seen as self-respecting people The Arabs, especially the urban dwellers, understand very well what we want and what we are doing in the country, but they pretend that they do not know or notice because they do not see at the present time any of them. Faults themselves, or future M as we do, and try to turn the work of these new guests in their favor, but when it comes the day when the lives of our people in the land of Israel has reached a degree, so that local people pay aside, a lot or a little, it will not be a easy to give up their land. “The settlers must deal with the local people with love and respect,” he said. “But these settlers have kept their ears on the advice of their compatriots. They have continued to assault and abuse the Palestinians, and the indifference towards them, so the Palestinians have rebelled against them more than once, as in 1929 and 1936. And these ideas became clearer after the emergence of the state and its emergence and support of these – the strong state has protected him and not protect the other and became the persecution of the other and the use of violence against him and kill him easy. Shapira has issued a book in 2009 entitled “The Bible of the King” in which he said that non-Jews may be killed even the children of them, because these will become as evil as their parents when they grow up.And the publication of the book criticized some officials the content of the book in a false and inflammatory fuss, but it disappeared, the book It was widely distributed in Israel. The roots of this idea are found in their ancient literature, as in “Baba 38a.” The words of these people deeply shed the conscience of the human being, deeply shakes emotions, and makes human rights a real farce. Like the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, “We are not surprised by the fact that some of these people burned innocent people alive, and even became the ones who kill the Palestinians from these people,” said Rabbi Yaakov Fern, in his homage to Baruch Goldstein. A saint, as is the case with Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Palestinians And build him a declaration on his grave visit them, and get involved with him. —————- * It should be noted here that the Jews who do not believe in the idea of ​​choice, and considers it a racist idea does not agree with the attributes of justice of God. These, the Jewish philosopher Spinosa (which we wrote a chapter In our book Jewish issues and personalities). Some of them have established Jewish groups in the 20th century, with many followers and believers, such as Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan and Rabbi Sherun Wein. Celebrating the Civilization of Babel * Dr. Jafar Hadi Hassan Babel was famous for its tower and its outstanding gardens, and few of them knew about its civilization and heritage. Although many of its remains are still trapped underground, where thousands of archaeological sites are waiting to be uncovered, what the archaeologists have devised is not so small. “One can say without exaggeration that there is no country in the world behind ancient texts of this magnitude that has reached us as I wrote,” said one European scholar, speaking of Mesopotamia. “These texts give a picture of the uniqueness of Babylonian civilization with its many facets And its impact on the development of knowledge in human history. One of the important things that played a role in the survival of this civilization was the interest of the Babylonians in writing and writing, and gave them great importance, so they wrote a goddess called “Nisaba” carrying the pen, “which was the task of supervising the writing and art. Who were also scholars and prominent owners of kings and society, played a very important cultural role, especially in the first phase of the Old Babylonian Kingdom (at the beginning of the second millennium BC). They succeeded in mastering the Sumerian language (which is not Semitic) Its symbols by their names, and the way they pronounce them In the Akkadian language (Semitic), and then composing the dictionaries in these two languages, where we received samples from them. These were first-rate translators (and the Arabs and Europeans inherited the word “Turjemanu” from the Babylonians). And to them, as it was said, the civilization of Mesopotamia was not. The scribes were trained in their own school called “I-Doba” and literally means “House of the Tablets.” What he discovered from this school gives us a clear idea of ​​it and the nature of the subjects in which it is taught. At the head of the school was a person called Omiya, Sumeria means “expert / acquaintance” followed by the class administrator, called “Ada Adoba” and then there are specialists such as “Topcharnsh” expert / professor of mathematics and “Topashar Ashaka” expert / professor of engineering and surveying. The most important subject taught in this school is the Sumerian language and is called the professor taught by “Topashar Kankira” specialist in Sumerian and its professor, who had a special site in this school. And the efforts of these scribes – scientists are today a lot of admiration. Had it not been for these efforts, they would not have been able to learn the Sumerian language, decipher its secrets and understand its meaning. The linguistic dictionaries written by these writers are a new work and one of the first attempts in the history of human knowledge. The work of the Babylonians was independent from what had been done in the Ebla civilization in Syria. Such dictionaries were not written for many centuries, since the Greeks did not care about the languages ​​of other peoples. These dictionaries became useful to the rest of the peoples after Akkadian became the language of diplomacy and commerce in the Near East . It is the language used by the rulers and the kings. This is evidenced by the letters of the Amarna, dating from the fourteenth century BC. These letters, which numbered several hundred in Akkadian, were sent by a number of rulers and princes in countries of the Near East And the Anatolia region to Amenhotep the third Pharaoh Egypt and his son Akhenaton (2). As time progressed, the Babylonians were interested in composing special dictionaries, such as dictionaries of names of stones, plants, animals and minerals. They also invented dictionaries of verb meanings, linguistic dictionaries of antibodies and synonyms, and even the roots and derivatives and uses of them, as well as dictionaries of rare words used in literature. These dictionaries did not differ from specific explanations and commentaries from the first millennium BC (3) The researchers found that the development of writing by the Babylonians did not take long, despite the precise rules they developed and the excellent literature they produced. The Babylonians were not only men but also women writers from early Babylonian civilization, as evidenced by the discoveries of the city of Spar (5), which lies north of Babylon. Literacy was not confined to a certain class of people, such as writers and priests, but many of the literary texts they found came from the homes of ordinary people. 6 Some may have private libraries. This gives us an idea that the Babylonian had literary interests as well. One of the first finds found by the archaeologists, which impressed the people is Maarif Hamurabi law. Although some laws have preceded them in Mesopotamia, such as the law of the king of Petach-Ishtar, and the Ur-growth and law of the state of Ashunna, the law of Hammurabi is the most famous of these laws and the most comprehensive and detailed. It contains more than two hundred and eighty paragraphs, including many areas of life. It was also distinguished by the beauty, accuracy and clarity of language. In some of her preamble, which gives some of the reasons for its legislation, “It is for justice to prevail in the country and to eliminate evil and injustice, so as not to persecute the weak strong people.” Models have been put in public places such as temples for people to learn and know, , And the texts of these laws became a model for the so-called ancient Babylonian language. Like Barzabalbion in the legislation of the laws, they were also famous in other fields such as medicine. The doctor, who was called “Aso” (Assi in Arabic and Asia / Asa in Syriac), an important site in the community, and was a member of the upper class, and his career was distinct to have no relation to religion or magic, ASHEVO. (In Aramaic “Hehef” and in Syriac “Asheva” and in Hebrew only in the Torah in the collection “Ashfim”) while the doctor – who distinguished people by carrying his tools with him and the method of shaving his hair and clothing – learns his profession study first. After the completion of the study he was practicing with those who are older than him in the profession and more experienced than him. These doctors had a president named “Lord Assi” (Chief / Chief Medical Officer) and we have received a large number of tablets that lists lists of symptoms, diseases and prescriptions written by doctors. It contains a diagnosis of natural causes of disease (the oldest prescription is believed to have been from the Mesopotamia of the Third Dynasty at the end of the third millennium BC). These are some of the recipes that have been discovered that the constituents of the drug are still (or some) used today for the same disease. The most important texts in the field of medicine are important authors considered by the researchers a masterpiece of science dating back to the middle of the second millennium BC at least, And speculation. “Some researchers believe that this author may have contained five thousand to six thousand paragraphs and found forty plates, of which almost half. (7) These doctors also knew the infection and its people. As he found letters sent to doctors where a lot of details of cases of illness and some of these messages contained some names of doctors also. In treating these diseases, doctors used not only medicines but also tools. Some of these physicians had been sent from Babylon to treat contemporary kings of the Babylonians, such as the Hittite King III, in the thirteenth century BC. The spread of medicine is the presence of at least seven articles in the law of Hammurabi related to surgery. . Some researchers believe that the Babylonians have also practiced psychotherapy, which is believed to be a product of modern times. The Babylonians were interested in mathematics, and thousands of figures and plates were found, which included numbers arranged in different ways, subtractions, calculations and calculations concerning architecture, land area, and watering, and many plates containing exercises, some with their solutions, others without them and some with advanced levels. The metal manufacturing was common and gave to those who had it a general name indicating its competence is “Nafakho” (Aramaic and Arabic blower). Then they allocated it by adding the name of the metal to him The name of mourning “Frzillo blower” Which is used in gold “Khursi Blower” (from this word took the Greek word Groossus for gold), says George Row in his book Iraq Old. There is no doubt that the Babylonians (and the Assyrians) knew more than what was found in their writings, such as the transfer of huge rocks and their erection, for example, or the creation of long waterways that showed advanced knowledge of the laws of physics. Colored and enameled clay. “[10] They were also interested in astronomy and were closely watching the moon, the sun and the stars, and they carried out this observation from religious temples and private towers in some cities. They also predicted the eclipses of the moon and the eclipses of the sun and watched the wind and clouds as well. In the light of astronomy, they divided the year into twelve months (the names of the Babylonian months are still used by Jews as well as the solar-lunar system). They divided the month into thirty or twenty-nine days and were divided today into twenty-four hours and sixty to sixty minutes. The names of astronomers have been mentioned in some of the Babylonian letters found and recorded these cases of eclipse and eclipse accurately, says Ptolemy. People have benefited from the experience of the Babylonians in this area after the disappearance of their state in particular. We read that Napo-Rimani (fifth century BC), Kadino and the priest, but Reisho (third century BC) were scientists who benefited from the Greeks in astronomy and called them Greek names. The first was named Napurianus and the second Cedinas and the third Perseus. Some scholars have discovered their origin and thought of the Greeks and attributed them to a line, and it is necessary to restore their identity to them. The priest knew that he had a seminar taught by students in the country of the Greeks at the request of them. Who wrote a Greek-language history of his homeland Babylon and its kings. Unfortunately, only a few parts of this book have reached us. It is mentioned in this book that Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens of his wife Amites. The Greeks erected a statue in Athens. Historians have reported that Alexander the Great was impressed by the Babylonian experience in astronomy and wisdom. [12] Some researchers believe that the cooperation of Babylonian and Greek astronomers has contributed to the evolution of this science to an extent that can not be ignored. Some astronomers of the 6th century AD relied on Babylonian observations in the prediction of the solar eclipses. The symbols of the towers used today are originally due to the Babylonians (and there is a Babylonian plaque in the British Museum confirming this). The people of Mesopotamia were said to have made their greatest achievements in the field of mathematics and astronomy. The Babylonians invented the solar clock. The historian Herodotus (5th century BC) said that “the science of space and the solar clock and the division of the day into twelve hours did not come from Greece or Egypt but from Babylon.” The Babylonians also took care of geography and found texts containing lists of countries, mountains, rivers, cities and even inter-city distances, a very useful issue for historians of modern times. Some maps (not maps in the modern sense) were found for some cities and a plan for the city of Nippur was discovered by the Babylonians in accordance with the archaeological discoveries of the city. A map of the world dates back to the 6th century BC. The land where the sun is never seen. “Texts that indicate their interest in historical geography have also been discovered from an early age. They were also interested in history. Apart from recording the achievements of the kings during their rule and the buildings written on historical information, lists of names of royal dynasties, kings’ names, known personalities and lists of simultaneous events were found alongside the registration of military campaigns, which researchers reported not only in the history of the event but also in Know the names of kings and other countries. The lists of kings sometimes mentioned the important events of each year during the rule of these kings. The lists of useful lists of names of the gods. It is important to find a long list of tallies (the horrors of good and evil) numbering to the thousands. These circles were specialists who studied them and trained on their knowledge for a long time called one of them, “the seer or the beholder.” It is very useful to study the customs, traditions and beliefs of the Babylonian society. Some people have been influenced by “this science” (as some scholars have called) as the Muthaids and have compiled similar lists. Some of the important letters and documents were placed in clay conditions and sealed so as not to be loaded or read by unauthorized people. Some words were written on the envelope indicating the inside of the document or the letter. A large number of these were found (13). It appears that the seal of personal letters with a special seal of stone was known among the Babylonians, until Herodides mentioned that every Babylonian had his own seal. (14) The Babylonians also left us a literary heritage no matter how poetry and prose of the literature of wisdom and humor and others and comes at the head of this literature story of creation, Ishtar in the underworld and the epic Gilgamesh. This epic is one of the most important epics in ancient times. It was admired by other peoples and influenced by them and their pride in their splendor, that they translated into their languages ​​and found their translation into the language of the Hittite and Hittite language.15 In modern times the epic was translated into more than one language on top of English as is known. It has been said about the Babylonians that they surpassed the sciences of their contemporaries from other peoples. The historian and archaeologists were impressed by the love of the Babylonians for their pure search and their love for exploration and exploration. As for Babylon in its later era, Heroddus described her admirer as impressed by her construction, planning and pompas. “There is no city like her in the world, which we know,” he said. The most famous of these gates was the Ishtarali Gate, decorated with blue-glazed tiles and a number of dragons (the symbol of God Murdoch) and a number of bulls. It is the gate of Ishtar today in the Berlin Museum, which fascinates man in its form, adornment and design. It was said that Babylon included more than a thousand temples of different sizes and shapes, 17 most important of which was the temple of the god Mardukh e Segila, which was built by King Nebuchadnezzar II. He said, “He brought him cedar wood from Lebanon and decorated it with gold and precious stones. , And became as bright as the sun. ” Some historians have mentioned that Alexander the Great – who was in Mesopotamia during his conquests and died there – was impressed by his planning and wanted to make it his world capital. Rather, he mentioned that he had already made it his capital and received 

The Falashas: A Jewish Minority in Israel By Dr Jaafar Hadi Hassan

Several thousand Ethiopian Jews demonstrated last year against the discarding of blood they had donated, an action carried out by the Israeli Ministry of Health in fear of its being infected with AIDS. The Ethiopian Jews who call themselves ‘Beta Yisrael’ and are called by other Ethiopians the ‘Falashas’, which in one of their languages, Ge’ez, means the ‘exiled, aliens’, number around 65,000 and were brought to the State of Israel (SI) in two stages. The Falashas have had to face many obstacles from the date of their arrival. This last protest was not a protest against the scandal of discarded blood only but a protest against all the other problems which they have had to endure.

Before we look at some of the problems faced by the Falashas we shall first briefly review their history, their beliefs and the state in which they were before arriving in the SI.

Many scholars believe that the Scottish traveller James Bruce was the first to meet and report to the world the existence of the Ethiopian Jews when, in the mid-eighteenth century, he published his book ‘Travels to Discover The Sources of The Nile’. Bruce spoke in detail of his discovery of the Jews he called the Falashas, their customs and habits and some of their history as related by them. But Bruce was not the first to have met and reported the existence of the Falashas, because the Arabs had done so more than two centuries before him when they contacted the Falashas and got to know them closely.

We shall report two such documented encounters. The first, Shihab ad-Diin Ahmad bin Abdel-Qadir al-Jizani, known as ‘Arab Faqih’ (d. c.1543), in his book ‘Tuhfat az-Zaman, Aw Futuh al-Habasha’ where he detailed the conquests of Imam Ahmad bin Ibrahim, as follows:

“The land of Sumain was owned by the Jews of Ethiopia, known in their tongue as the Falashas. They believe in Allah, but have no Prophet or Righteous Leaders. The people of Bahr’anba have enslaved them for 40 years, during which they used them to plough their lands. When the Imam defeated Archbishop Saul, the Falashas poured in their masses from all directions – from the caves where they used to live – and said to the Imam, ‘There has for the last forty years been an enmity between the people of Bahr’anba and ourselves. We shall fight the people of Bahr’anba now that you have defeated them and taken their castles. You stay in your place and we shall treat them as it may please you’. After the Imam had supplemented their army, they marched to the mountain and brought down the people of Bahr’anba in chains to the Imam who stayed there until he conquered Sumain”. [1]

The second is the historian al-Hami from the seventeenth century. He reported in his book ‘Sirat al-Habasha’ the following: “After seven stages, we reached the land of the Falashas which was formed by a great valley, called ‘aghna’, under a mighty mountain called Sumain. Sumain is the greatest of Ethiopia’s mountains and may even be the greatest of all the world’s mountains..… This tribe, called the Falashas, is the biggest of Ethiopia’s tribes following the Jewish religion and the Shari’a Law of the Torah. They used to be out of the control of the king who had often attacked them from all sides as their land was surrounded by Christian land, until he defeated them and brought them down from their castles, whereby they submitted to his authority and obeyed his orders voluntarily. The king handed over their land to his Wazir, and most of the Falashas became Christians except for a few”. [2]

Scholars are not in agreement on the origins of their Jewishness. Some believe that they are the descendants of the Jews who came from Yemen in the sixth century when the king of Aksum invaded the land of Himyar which was ruled by the Jewish king, Dhu Nawas. The Christians of Himyar had earlier sought the assistance of the Byzantine Emperor, Justin 1, to save them from Dhu Nawas. Justin called on the Ethiopian Christian king of Aksum to liberate the Christians. The king of Aksum occupied the land of Himyar and defeated Dhu Nawas in 525 AD. The king brought with him some Jewish prisoners. The proponents of this theory believe that the Jews of Ethiopia are the descendants of those prisoners, suggesting that Judaism had entered Ethiopia in the sixth century, following the adoption of Christianity in the fourth century. [3]

Some scholars believe that Judaism entered Ethiopia from Yemen earlier than Christianity through wars, trade or other routes, as Judaism was one of the religions of the Arabian Peninsula. [4] But the Ethiopian Jews relied on the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Torah) which was translated in Egypt (c 2nd century BC), and there is no evidence that this version was known in the Peninsula.

Yet others believe that the Ethiopian Jews constitute an ethnic and religious group descended from the lost Jewish tribes, of which large groups immigrated to Ethiopia and intermarried with the indigenous people. They argue in favour of this theory that the skin of these Jews is not as dark as that of other Africans and their features are distinctly non-African, which according to them is conclusive evidence that they could not have descended from an African origin. However, the colour and the features of the Ethiopian Jews generally are not different from those of the rest of the Ethiopian population. Furthermore the blood test carried out on the Falashas indicated that their blood groups are different from those predominant among the Eastern Jews. [5]

Some of those who believe that Jews immigrated to Ethiopia suggest that only a few Jews, and not thousands of the lost tribes, had entered Ethiopia before Christianity, and converted some of the inhabitants. Today’s Jews are the descendants of those early converts [6]

There are others who believe that Ethiopian Jews came from an island in the Nile situated opposite present-day Aswan and known in ancient Egyptian as ‘Yeb’, the name retained in Aramaic. The Greeks called it ‘Elephantine’ which is a true translation of the early Egyptian. The significance of this island is that it was the city of the God Khnum and was a military fortress to defend Egypt’s southern borders against the Nubians who used to attack the Nile valley. [7]

During the Persian rule of Egypt around 525BC Elephantine became a large military base inhabited by many mercenaries from different ethnic origins. Among those mercenaries were Jews who had their own “temple”, as is revealed from papyrus letters written in Aramaic from the fifth century. It is clear from these letters that some of their customs were different from those observed by other Jews in matters such as mixed marriages and sacrificial rituals.

When the Persians were driven out of Egypt during the fifth century BC the position of those Jews was weakened and they started to complain of their treatment by the Egyptian priests who were pressurising and assaulting them. When their position deteriorated further, they left the island. It is believed that some of them went to present-day Ethiopia. To support this theory, its proponents cite the Greek historian Strabo, who lived in the first century BC. When writing on Abyssinia, Strabo referred to a settlement of Egyptians living on an island far up in the Nile who had gone to Meroe (Ethiopia) as “exiled by Psammetichus and are called Sembritae as being foreigners”. [8] This is the meaning of the word ‘Falashas’ in the Ge’ez language.

But the Ethiopist Ullendorff rejects this and says: “Even if this referred to the time of Psammetichus II (593-588BC), it would clearly be too early to have any connection with the Jewish military garrison at Elephantine”. He then puts forward the idea that the Falashas are “descendants of those elements in the AksumiteKingdom who resisted conversion to Christianity..…Their cult embodies a curious mixture of pagan-Judaic-Christian beliefs and ceremonies…..Their so-called Judaism is merely the reflection of those Hebraic and Judaic practices and beliefs which were implanted on parts of South-West Arabia in the first post-Christian centuries and subsequently brought into Abyssinia.” To support his theory Ullendorff mentions the fact that the Falashas do not know any prescription outside the Pentateuch: Mishna and Talmud are unknown to them. They have no knowledge of Hebrew, and the language of their prayers is Ge’ez as is the case with their Christian compatriots. The feasts mentioned in the Pentateuch are observed by the Falashas in a manner often materially different from that of Jews elsewhere. Post-exilic feasts are not celebrated by them. The Sabbath is observed with considerable strictness, and the prescriptions regarding ritual cleanness are practised with great zeal, both features which exist among very many other Ethiopians. In common with their monophysite neighbours the Falashas carry out circumcision on boys and excision on girls.” [9]

The Ethiopian Jews themselves believe that they originated in Palestine. They cite a story reported in ‘Kebra Nagast’ (Glory of the Kings: the Ethiopian national saga), a book which was written in the 14th century detailing the stories of the kings of Ethiopia. According to this book the kings of Ethiopia descended from King Solomon and Mekida, Queen of Sheba, who gave birth to a son called Menelik on her return to her land after her visit to Solomon. When Menelik grew up, he went to visit his father. Before his return to Ethiopia, King Solomon requested the heads of other tribes to send their eldest sons with Menelik. The High Priest Zadok declared Menelik a king in Ethiopia. When they departed to Ethiopia, Menelik and his companions took with them the Israelite ‘Ark of the Covenant’ from the Temple of Jerusalem and installed it in Aksum. The Ethiopian Christians say that after the Ark was moved the Holy Spirit left Israel and set down in Ethiopia. The Ark was placed in a holy site in Aksum known as the ‘Second Jerusalem’, where access is allowed to one priest only who serves the site. It is customary to see a model of this Ark in ordinary Ethiopian churches.

The priests of the Christian Ethiopian church believe that they are the descendants of Levi and so do the priests of the Falashas. They also believe that the Ethiopians, and not the Jews, are the ‘chosen people’ because they possess the Ark. [10] However, the Jews of Ethiopia say that they are the descendants of those people who accompanied Menelik from the kingdom of Solomon to Ethiopia. The origin of this last theory is traced to two references in the Old Testament where, in the First Book of Kings 10 1-13 and in the Second Book of Chronicles 9 1-12, the story is told of the visit by this Queen to King Solomon and his warm reception of her. In Kabra Nagast extra details, not present in the Old Testament, are added to show how the kings of Ethiopia were descended from King Solomon. Many scholars are doubtful of this theory because the kingdom of this queen had not been identified in the story. She had been called in the Old Testament ‘Queen of Sheba’, and the Qur’an calls the kingdom ‘Saba’, which is related to Yemen more than any other land.

I believe that the Ethiopian Jews took some of their religious beliefs and customs from the Jews who came to Ethiopia, not necessarily from Yemen, before the arrival of Christianity and then mixed their beliefs and original customs with them. They subsequently, on the arrival of Christianity, adopted some of its beliefs and finally on their contact with modern Jews during the last century their Jewish beliefs were strengthened.

The Judaism of the Ethiopian Jews distinguishes itself from that of common Jews in both belief and practice. Their Torah includes books that are not present in the Torah of common Jews, such as the Book of Enoch, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Book of Jubilees, Baruch, Tobit and others. These books are called “apocrypha”, and their inclusion makes their Torah consist of 46 books. They, like the Qaraites and the Samaritans, but contrary to common belief among most other Jews, do not recognise the Talmud. (The Samaritan Sect separated itself from mainstream Judaism before the compilation of the Talmud).

They resemble the Samaritans but differ from the rest of the Jews in that they offer sacrifices on the Passover and on other occasions. [11] Most Jews had ceased to offer sacrifices following the destruction of the Temple. The Ethiopian Jews pray seven times a day [12] and not three as the rest of the Jews do. They have their own liturgy, read in Ge’ez and not in Hebrew or Aramaic, and their place of worship is called a ‘Mesjid’, which means mosque in Arabic. [13]

They, like the Qaraites, do not celebrate Purim or Hanukkah which are feasts ordained for other Jews but not prescribed in the Old Testament. At the Feast of Tabernacles they celebrate without building booths. The religious ceremony of ‘Seged’ is peculiar to the Falashas. Its main feature is the ascent to a hill or a mountain led by their priests. They, like the Qaraites, do not practise the blowing of the shofar ‘trumpet’ at the beginning of the year and on other occasions and do not separate milk from meat. [14] The Falashas practise monasticism [15], unlike any other Jewish group today. According to some, this practice was introduced in the fifteenth century.

When a woman is menstruating she is kept in a hut outside the village until she is clean and allowed to return after dipping into flowing water. A similar treatment is given to a mother following childbirth who is kept in an isolated hut for forty days if she gave birth to a boy and for eighty days if she gave birth to a girl. After the expiry of that period she has to shave her hair and wash her body and clothes before she is allowed back home. The hut used for these women is called the ‘blood hut’ and is usually burnt after its use. [16]

In their country of origin the Ethiopian Jews lived in isolation from the rest of the Ethiopians and only contacted them in need. There are several reasons for this isolation. One of the main reasons is that they considered themselves better than the rest of the Ethiopians in their practices and faith and thus derided other groups. They usually lived in isolated areas close to flowing water. They did not enjoy travelling because they were very careful about their food, as they do not eat the food of the rest of the Ethiopians. They would wash if they touched a non-Jewish person.

This isolation which they believe is imposed by their religion has been aggravated by their undertaking of what the other Ethiopians consider to be mean professions such as pottery and smith craft. All this led the Ethiopians to become wary and suspicious. They came to call them the ‘Tib’ which means the evil spirit that reincarnates into another and hurts other people. [17]

The Ethiopians believe that the Falashas turn into hyenas at night, digging up graves and eating corpses; at one time the Ethiopians went out to hunt hyenas and ended up killing a large number of them. In some parts of Ethiopia they were considered as sorcerers and cannibals who would eat people in a very mysterious and magical fashion. [18]

The link between smithcraft and sorcery is not new. It is reported that one of the Ethiopian kings sentenced all the blacksmiths to death because he found them to be sorcerers. A similar fate was meted out in the seventeenth century. This belief has entered Ethiopian literature and prayers. And until recent times a blacksmith was considered a servant for everybody and when enlisted in the army he was not really considered as one of its members and had no opportunity of promotion. [19]

Among the popular beliefs in Ethiopia is that the Falashas were born in hell, spit fire and have to be isolated. Despite the attempts by the Falashas to dispel these charges they seem to be entrenched beliefs continuing to recent times, which the Falashas brought to the attention of Haile Selassie, the last Ethiopian king, in one of their letters (1958-59) saying: “We are falsely accused of sorcery and legerdemain and of turning ourselves at night into wild animals like the hyenas. The accusation is that we do not only kill our neighbours and eat them but that we dig out corpses and eat them.” [20]

The Falashas did not maintain a good relationship with the kings of Ethiopia. With some, especially those who forced them to adopt Christianity, they had real conflict. It is worth pointing out here that the Falashas were not persecuted for being Jews, because the kings of Ethiopia took great pride in claiming descent from King Solomon. Both Menelik the Second (d.1913) and Haile Selassie added the title of ‘Lion of Judah’ to their names. But the kings of Ethiopia oppressed all religious communities, especially those living in isolation, whose beliefs differed from the Ethiopian church. Among the groups persecuted were the Muslims, the Protestants, the Catholics and some other small Christian communities.

Jewish interest in the Falashas grew in the nineteenth century after they heard that missionaries had gone to Ethiopia following the publication of James Bruce’s book. [21] The Jewish Alliance posted Joseph Halevy, orientalist and a Semitic languages scholar, to Ethiopia to contact the Falasha Jews there. He left for Ethiopia in 1867 and lived among the Falashas for several months. When he returned he brought back with him one of their young men to study Judaism in Europe.

Halevy submitted a report about the Falashas and their condition. He estimated their number to be around 150,000 which was less than the number estimated by James Bruce. At the beginning of this century J. Faitlovitch, one of Halevy’s students, travelled on a mission financed by the tycoon Rothschild. He subsequently made several other trips to Ethiopia and carried with him much aid. He established a special Jewish school in Addis Ababa and several mobile schools. This had an adverse effect on the missionaries’ campaigns which were at their peak among the Falashas. Faitlovitch established a committee for the defence of the Falashas. [22]

After the death of Faitlovitch the Ethiopian Jewish leaders started writing and seeking the assistance of the Jews in the West. An American society was formed for the purpose of providing aid. When the SI was created this society demanded the transfer to the Falashas to it, but the Ethiopian government was not willing to let the transfer take place. Thus when some of the Ethiopian Jews asked an Israeli diplomat for his assistance he suggested that they should convert to Christianity to solve their problems. [23] Israel Yeshi’yahu, the Knesset speaker in the 1950’s, declared that it was best for the Falashas to convert to Christianity as it would please the Ethiopian government and benefit the Falashas. He was strongly supported in this by Israeli officials. [24]

In 1955 the government of the SI agreed to accept twelve of them between the ages of 11-17 for training, but made it clear that it was not a recognition of them by the government. When they arrived in Israel the religious establishment demanded their conversion to Orthodox Judaism because their Jewishness was suspect. They carried out the rituals of conversion to Orthodoxy and returned to Ethiopia after the end of their training course. [25]

The Israelis carried on refusing to transfer them to Israel. When Golda Meir was Prime Minister she said that the Falashas would live a miserable life in Israel and be a subject of ridicule and abuse. She expressed her fear that they might unite in solidarity with the Sephardim. [26] It is reported that she had said that “we have enough problems without needing those blacks.” [27]

In 1973 one Israeli diplomat said that “Israel did not recognise that the Law of Return applied to the Falashas. If any member of them wanted to visit Israel he would be treated like any other Ethiopian visiting Israel. The attempts of the Falashas to immigrate to Israel would be adverse to their interests as the Israeli government was not very enthusiastic to receive them.” [28]

When Ezer Weizmann, the then Israeli Minister of Defence, was asked, during a student conference in 1979, about the Falashas, he responded: “Do you want to trouble me also with the problem of the Falashas? Is it the most important problem we have to face today? [29]

Some Ethiopian Jews entered the SI as individuals and requested the government to assist their brethren in Ethiopia but were faced with threats of imprisonment. In 1979 Menachem Begin formed a committee to study the Falashas’ case, but the committee failed to reach any conclusions. However, the government changed its mind following the changes of international conditions and the growing need for more immigrants. Several thousand were transferred in December 1984 and January 1985 in ‘Operation Moses’. A second stage in the transfer took place in 1991 in ‘Operation Solomon’.

Since the arrival of the Ethiopian Jews through ‘Operation Moses’ they have faced problems with the religious establishment. First among those was the non-recognition of their Jewish identity when they were asked to undergo the ritual of conversion to Orthodoxy. The Chief Rabbi’s office attempted to explain the reason for this request in that the Falashas had long been isolated from other Jews and had totally lost contact with Jewish laws (implying non-recognition of the Talmud). The consequences of this break had been that most of their marriage contracts were not recognised by Orthodox Judaism and so neither were their divorces. That also meant that they were ‘memzerim’ (illegitimate children) and consequently could only marry ‘memzerim’, illegitimate like themselves. [30]

It added further that in order to prevent problems in the future they had to convert to Orthodox Judaism. Among the requirements for conversion to Orthodoxy is circumcision, which the Falashas had executed but in a manner not recognised by the Chief Rabbinate in Israel. There were other rituals which they had to undergo and observe. Some of them accepted and conformed to this conversion, but the majority of them rejected it and considered it to be insulting and humiliating. Some of them declared it to be pure racism that bore no relation to Judaism. They insisted that they had observed Moses’ laws for centuries as they understood them from the Torah. One of them is reported to have said: “We are Jews and have paid heavily in order to come to Jerusalem. Yet we have been treated with discrimination by the white Jews”. One of the Falashas’ Rabbis said: ” This is not a human treatment. It is a great shame that this kind of treatment is carried out in the name of Judaism.” [31]

Another is reported to have said: “We, the Ethiopian Jews, have isolated ourselves from the aliens more than any other Jewish group so that we do not get assimilated and lose our identity. We have struggled for long against problems and obstacles to keep our faith and apply the Torah to the extent that we sacrificed our lives for it. Until we discovered the Jewish world, we believed that we were the only Jews in the world. We still carried on with preserving with care the practice of our religious duties. We demand justice and equality because a man is either a Jew or a non-Jew. This humiliation must stop now and forever. All the Falashas must be respected like any other Jewish group.” [32]

Another had said: “When I came to Israel I felt I was a free Jew. It was a surprise for me to see the Jews driving their cars and listening to the radio on Saturdays. But despite these violations they ask me to convert to Judaism. When I was in Ethiopia I sought to feel like a Jew in everything. I practised all the rites according to the Torah, but they tell me that I am not a Jew. Then what good were all the years in which I practised Judaism in the past?” [33]

The Falashas threatened to demonstrate and to return to Ethiopia via Egypt to highlight their plight. [34] Some of them threatened to commit suicide. They complained to the government and met the then Prime Minister Peres when they told him that they had been Jews for centuries and asking them to convert, carry out purification, circumcision and other rituals was humiliating and degrading. They informed Peres that some members of their community had committed suicide. Peres promised to look into the matter and respond in a few weeks.

Peres met both Chief Rabbis in Israel to discuss the matter. After the meeting he announced that the purification ritual was not necessary, but that each case had to be studied individually. The announcement included the statement that religious courts should consult the Ethiopian Rabbis. However, immediately after the announcement one official in the Chief Rabbi’s office declared that every immigrant to Israel who wanted to get married must prove his Jewishness, which meant the Ethiopian Jews had to convert to Orthodox Judaism because the Rabbis had no proof of their Jewishness. The Falashas protested and demonstrated for one month in front of the Chief Rabbi’s office. They were supported by some other Israelis from among the reform Jews and the conservatives who are not currently recognised by the religious establishment. [35]

The Chief Rabbi’s office had informed them that it would recognise their Jewishness and all the rights that would follow from such recognition. The Falashas thought that their problem had been solved, only to be disappointed when the Chief Rabbi’s office issued orders to the registry not to register any marriage unless the applicant undertook to abide by the religious regulations and execution of purification by dipping into water and circumcision before the Rabbis. The woman would have to accept the religious regulations and dip her body into water before witnesses. If the applicant could show that he had been properly circumcised then he was required only to accept the regulations and dip into water. [36]

Peres had to intervene again to resolve the dispute. A new agreement was reached between Peres and the Chief Rabbi, but this agreement was similar to the previous one which had been rejected by the Falashas. It left the determination of the identity of Ethiopian Jewishness to the religious court but without the requirement of purification in water. But the Falashas wanted the determination in case of doubt to be done by their own Rabbis. The agreement also covered the establishment of an institute within the Ministry of Religion to study the affairs of the Ethiopians. Among the functions of this institute was advice on marriage and divorce. However, when the institute was established not one Falasha became a member of it. [37]

The religious establishment kept to its demands and the Falashas kept to their refusal to conform. They approached the Rabbis of the Reform Jews to supervise their marriages and divorces [38], but these Rabbis are not recognised by the establishment either.

The Falashas demonstrated again in 1992 in front of the Prime Minister’s Office. They called for improvement in their living conditions in the absorption camps which they said were in a dire state. They were met by two ministers who tried to convince them to stop their protest, but failed. Some of them tried to force their way into the Prime Minster’s Office. One of them said: “Those people treat us the same way they treat the Arabs. We want to be recognised as Jews of complete Jewishness according to our beliefs. The religious establishment has deprived the Ethiopian Rabbis of any authority. We do not understand the reason why the government and the public do not care for us.” Adisu Massala, who worked with the Jewish agency, says that in 1985-87 some 30 Falashas committed suicide due to the refusal of the authority to recognise their marriages. [39]

One of the biggest problems which the Falashas had to confront was that of housing. Several thousands of them still live in mobile houses. And until recently many of them were living in crowded hostels where families were packed in one or two rooms without any ventilation or cooking facilities.

The Falashas marched in 1992 on foot from Ashkelon to Jerusalem to demonstrate against the miserable state in which they were living. People of all ages took part including the old, children and pregnant women. After some 20 km of marching when some began to show signs of exhaustion, they were met by the Minister of Absorption who tried to persuade them to call the march off. They complained about the deteriorating condition of their housing where the houses they lived in were no more than small suffocating cardboard boxes insufficient for a family of eight or more. The officials in charge of these mobile houses refused to assist. They asked for permanent houses and the Minister promised to solve the problem in three years’ time. One of the demonstrators told the Minister that if the problem was not resolved in three years the Falashas were going to explode in rebellion. He also informed the Minister that “we have not learned any lessons from the mobile houses of the 1950s (referring to the Yemenite Jews’ problems) and the people do not know the scale of the problems which our children have to face in schools because they are placed in separate schools for years on their own. There is so much discrimination against the Ethiopian Jews generally and there are many stories about their diseases.[40]

The Director of the Ethiopian Jews Society told the Jewish Chronicle on 2/2/1996 that the Ethiopian Jews are scattered all over the country in many isolated locations. There may be several thousands of them in one location without a place for worship near to them. He accused the government of spiritual negligence.

One of the main complaints of the Falashas is education, because of the discrimination against them in this field. From their first arrival in Israel the majority of their children were put in religious schools. They were not put in normal schools but had special classes made for them. The Director of the Ethiopian Jews Society said that around 80% of the Ethiopian teenagers study in special schools that teach Orthodoxy with a programme concentrating on the Hebrew language, which enables them to obtain lower jobs only. In these schools they have no opportunity to mix with other children. And when some other children are included in these special schools, they are usually from families which have problems and cannot cope with their children. This only goes to compound the problems of the Ethiopian children. Adisu Massala said: “The Ethiopian children are placed in the worst schools where they only meet underdeveloped children”.

When the Ethiopian children are put on a vocational course, they find real difficulty in getting into the job market. In 1992 some 35 boys graduated from the Hadassa Niorim school after three years of studying and training. They applied for work through the Ministry of Absorption. Three local authorities initially committed themselves to employing them but then retracted their offer.

The latest statistics issued by the Ethiopian Jews Society indicated that only 7% of Ethiopian students passed the high school general exam which is half the percentage of the Arab students. [41] This is the lowest percentage among all the Jewish minorities. One member of the society indicated that the government has failed in bridging the gap between the Ethiopian children and others in the field of education.

There are other social problems facing the Falashas, such as public discrimination against them. There have been many incidents which the Falashas regard as indicating this. Thus when in 1993 a plan was put to transfer the Falashas to a village called Nishir near Haifa, the inhabitants demonstrated violently and blocked the roads to prevent such a transfer. They declared that they strongly rejected the idea of settling the Falashas near them and complained that the prices of houses would drop if they were to be housed there. The Russian Jews also objected to housing the Falashas near them in the upper Uqnai’am. [42]

Some schools refused to accept Falasha pupils as had happened in Haifa in 1992, when the mayor refused to accept some Ethiopian pupils. The Director of the Ethiopian Jews Society summarised their relationship with the Israeli public in saying: “The Israelis say that they like us but they do not like us to live near them. They are disgusted with the smell of our food and hate the look of our African clothes. [43]

The Falashas also complain about the discrimination in the Israeli army which has resulted in some soldiers committing suicide. According to the Jerusalem Post International Edition (5.4.1997) ten Falasha soldiers have committed suicide since 1993. In one month alone this year, three more killed themselves. One of the, Alene Tamene aged 22, said to his niece a day before he killed himself: “Every morning when I get to the base, six soldiers are waiting for me who clap their hands and yell “the Kushi (Blackie) is here'”. According to Shlomo Mula, Secretary of the Ethiopian Jews Organisation, when Tamene complained to his commander about the name calling he was told: “What’s the matter, don’t you know you are Kushi? What are you complaining about?” Mula said of the recent suicides: “This is terrible. I can’t believe this could happen. Every week we go to funerals.”

Also this year an Ethiopian soldier, Avi Asemere, was denied treatment in an army medical clinic by a Russian-born Israeli Major who told him it was “off limits to Kushim”. Adisu Massala – who is now the only Falasha Kenesset member – said that he had received numerous complaints from the immigrants in the army about racist remarks and mistreatment.

The Falashas also protested recently against awarding the Israeli prize for journalism this year to the Ma’ariv columnist Shamuel Schnitzer, claiming he is racist. Scnhitzer said in an article in August 1994 entitled ‘Importing Death’ about the Ethiopian Jews brought to the SI, that they are “thousands of apostates carrying dangerous diseases”. When he was asked to apologize he replied “I am not going to accept a prize with conditions attached. I am not sorry about a single word I wrote and I am not prepared to lie”. (Jewish Chronicle 11/4/1997)

Among the entrenched social problems faced by the Ethiopians is unemployment. A large proportion of them live on social benefit and unemployment reaches 50% among some sections of them, such as in Ashkelon. As the social benefit is not sufficient to live on some of the Falashas have converted to Christianity in order to be supported by the missionaries. The Jerusalem Report reported on 10/8/1995 that seven Ethiopian families from Upper Nazareth had converted to Christianity in order to save themselves from the misery they were in.

Divorce among the Falashas is two to three times as common as among the Israelis. One of their problems was the enforced separation between members of the same family resulting from the break in ‘Operation Moses’. Many of those left behind were asked to wait in Addis Ababa for a short period. However, the delay lasted for six years. It is reported that half of the children became orphaned during that period. Many women who arrived without their husbands gave birth later to illegitimate children who were not registered owing to the objection of the religious establishment. [44]

Among the problems faced by the Ethiopian women had been the custom of dipping into a river following menstruation and giving birth. It has not been easy for them to find a river to execute this ritual. [45]

The Ethiopian Jews are warning against further deterioration in their social conditions. Shlomo Mula, who is now the Secretary of the United Ethiopian Jewish Organisation, asserts that if there is no real and rapid change, the Ethiopian Jews will resort to what the Blacks do in the US. [46]

Vasel Lagasa, one of the leaders of the Ethiopian Jews Society, said: “The social problems are increasing and worsening. We are facing a state of explosion because the number of those disenchanted is increasing. It is sad that after several generations of dreaming of coming to Israel, many of our young men are deserting their roots”. [47]

This last comment relates to the fact that many young Ethiopian Jews are shunning Judaism in general and Israelis in particular and have begun looking for a culture of a mixed African and Caribbean type to identify with. They began to cut their hair Rastafarian-style; make it into twists and dress in similar colours. They have begun to talk about Black Nationalism, stating their belief in that rather than in Judaism. Many of them frequent a place in Tel Aviv, called Seweto, where they come from all over Israel to meet and dance. They say that this place gives them a feeling of being at home where they are masters, as they have discovered in it some links to their African culture. [48]

It is believed that this behaviour is a reaction to the failure of Israeli society to absorb the Falashas and assimilate them. The Ethiopian Jews are attempting by this behaviour to fill the vacuum created by uprooting their traditions and replacing them with religious education which they were forced to accept.

There is a possibility that the disappointment of the Ethiopian Jews with the Israeli government and society will in the future manifest itself in more violent and bitter protests against the government, especially after Israel achieves its peace with its Arab neighbours and the external threat disappears which has been used by the SI to prevent the emergence and surfacing of such problems.

Notes:

  1. p.344

2.p.142

3.D. Kessler, The Falashas, The Forgotten People of Ethiopia, p.64

  1. D.Ross, Acts of Faith, p.153
  2. J. Quirin, The Evolution of the Ethiopian Jews, p.8
  3. Ibid, pp.8-9
  4. Encyclopaedia Judaica, Elephantine
  5. D. Kessler, op.cit. pp.46-47
  6. E. Ullendorf, Ethiopia and the Bible, pp.116-117
  7. T.G. Wagaw, For Our Soul, Ethiopian Jews in Israel, p.7
  8. W. Leslau, Falashas Anthology, p.xxvi
  9. D. Ross, op.cit. pp.148-149
  10. D. Kessler, op.cit. p.68
  11. Ibid. pp.68-70
  12. W. Leslau, op.cit. p.xxv
  13. D. Kessler, op.cit. pp.69-70
  14. T.G. Wagaw, op.cit. p.20
  15. J. Quirin, op.cit. p.142
  16. Ibid. p.145
  17. D Kessler, op.cit. pp.151-152
  18. H. A. Stern, Wandering among the Falashas, Introduction
  19. S. Messing, The Story of the Falashas, p.197
  20. J. Quirin, op.cit. p.195
  21. R.S. Feuerlicht, The Fate of the Jews, p.206
  22. L. Rappart, The Lost Jew, pp.196-197
  23. M. Waldman, The Jews of Ethiopia, pp.66-68
  24. R.S. Feuerlicht, op. cit. p.206
  25. L. Rappart, op. cit. p.195
  26. D. Ross, op.cit. p.160
  27. R. S. Feuerlicht, op. cit. p.208
  28. T. G. Wagaw, op. cit. pp.112-113
  29. T. Parfitt, Operation Moses, p.129
  30. Ibid. p.130
  31. D. Ross, op. cit. p.160
  32. T.G. Wagaw, op. cit. p.114
  33. Ibid. p.115
  34. Barrie Shemesh, ‘Suqut Israel’, p.242
  35. T.G. Wagaw, op. cit. p.180
  36. Ibid. pp.118-119
  37. Jerusalem Post (International Edition), 29.8.1992
  38. Jewish Chronicle, 2.2.1996
  39. Jerusalem Post (International Edition), 16.4.1993
  40. Jewish Chronicle, 8.12.1995
  41. T. G. Wagaw, op. cit. pp.87-88
  42. Ibid, p.88

46.Jewish Chronicle, 8.12.1995

  1. Barrie Shemesh, op. cit. p.235
  2. Jerusalem Report, 15.12.1999

The Middle East Book Review Vol 6 Nos 1&2 1997

Israel Airlifts Thousands of Falash Mura By Dr Jaafar Hadi Hassan

At the end of the last century Israel transported tens of thousands of Falashas who claim to be Jews and call themselves “Beita Yisrael” from Ethiopia to Israel in two operations – Operation Moses and Operation Solomon. Their numbers in Israel today are estimated to be about one hundred thousand. There is another Ethiopian group, called the Falash Mura who practise Christianity, go to church, marry Christian women, and wear crosses. Some of them are even Christian Orthodox priests. The Falash Mura claim to be descendents of the Falashas whom Christian missionaries converted to Christianity in the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. The Israeli government has been quietly transporting these people to Israel since the 1990s. Almost every month a few hundred Falash Mura arrive in Israel unobtrusively. Their numbers in Israel now amount to twenty thousand and there are thousands more who have been gathered together by the Jewish Agency and other Jewish and Christian organisations in Gondar and Addis Ababa. The number of these people who have been living at the expense of these organisations while waiting to be airlifted to Israel is estimated to be about twenty thousand. This year the Israeli cabinet decided to speed up their transportation to Israel. This decision it seems was prompted by the report which the head of the Jewish Agency presented to the International Interdisciplinary Centre in Hetzellia, at its annual conference, in which he stated that the number of Jews in the world is decreasing. According to this report, fifty Jews are lost to the faith every day. The report also stated that the number of immigrants to Israel, particularly from countries of the former Soviet Union, is shrinking. The decision was made in the light of this background. As many Ethiopian nationals feel resentment about this operation, Israel decided to take these people gradually. According to the Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, “The Israeli government does not want to embarrass the Ethiopian government by taking its citizens”. But the Ethiopians say that what Israel is doing is damaging the history and the heritage of the country and say if Israel wants to really help these people she can do so where they are. The Ethiopian government for its part has objected to what it views as provocation in its internal affairs and has also cast doubts on the number who are willing to convert to Judaism. In fact some of the Falashas in Israel have disputed the claim of the Falash Mura and have also objected to their transportation to Israel. They maintain that these people are Christians who simply want to escape the life of poverty and destitution in which they live. Even some rabbis have refused to accept their claims. Some members of the Knesset have also objected to bringing so many Christian people to Israel, because they think that so large a number will affect the Jewish character of the country and will harm the fabric of society. But the head of the Jewish Agency has defended the decision to bring them to Israel and said that “The decision was right from humanitarian, Jewish and Zionist points of view and that Israel is not bringing them in accordance with the Law of Return but in accordance with the Family Reunion Law”. In fact some officials say that whether these people are of Jewish origin or not they are going to be converted to Orthodox Judaism on their arrival. Besides the Falash Mura, Israel is also bringing another Ethiopian group called the Qawara who live in the north east of the country. They claim that they are of Jewish origin and want to live in Israel. A few thousand of them are already living in Israel and thousands more are also being transported there by the government. An additional Ethiopian group are called the Gomez whom the Qawara bought as slaves from the Amhara people and converted them to their religion and became part of them. It seems that the transportation of these people from Ethiopia will not be the last one according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper whose correspondent went into the countryside and villages in Ethiopia to investigate. The correspondent found thousands of Ethiopians who claim to have connections with Judaism and want to be taken to Israel. Israel continues to bring these Ethiopians despite the problems those already settled in the country are having such as discrimination and poverty. A recent survey shows that 60% of the Falashas live in poverty and that unemployment among them is at a high rate. In fact it is the highest among Israeli groups. The rate of suicide among this group is also the highest in Israel. Besides, they have begun to reject the culture of Israel and to aspire towards that of Africa and the Caribbean. Some of them have begun to avoid serving in the army. All this it seems is a kind of protest against the discrimination they claim to have experienced. According to a recent survey 43% of Israelis would refuse to marry an Ethiopian or allow their children to do so. Besides the groups from Ethiopia, Israel is planning to transport some tens of thousands of people from tribes living on the borders between India and Myanmar. These people claim to be descendents of Menessah (son of Joseph, son of the patriarch Jacob who founded the Israeli tribes). Israel has already taken a few hundred of these people and put some of them in settlements in the Occupied Territories. Some Israeli rabbis have been sent by the chief Rabbinate to prepare them for immigration. The search for the so called Lost Jewish Tribes by Israel and Jewish Agencies stretches from Latin America through Africa to Asia. But the decision which will open the door wide for immigration is that of the Jewish Agency which allows any Jew by choice (non-Jewish person converting to Judaism) to emigrate to Israel. But Israel of course looks at immigration as an important source of strength in any negotiations with the Arabs and Palestinians. It also wants to offset the demographic expansion of the Palestinians whose numbers, according to statistics, in historic Palestine will be greater than the Jews in a few years time.

This article was published in the Return Review, 2005

Makuya: A Japanese Christian Zionist Sect By Dr Jaafar Hadi Hassan

The Christian population in Japan is small and does not exceed two and a half percent of the overall population of almost one hundred and thirty million people.

Christianity is not new in Japan but has, in fact, been there for centuries.  It is possible that because of the difficulties the missionaries faced the number of people who converted to Christianity was not large.  As the missionaries were from different denominations so too were the converts.

Many of these Christians are of Protestant denominations and some of them were influenced by Protestant ideas which emerged during the nineteenth century.  One of these ideas is the belief in Jewish Zionism ie gathering the Jews together in Palestine.Those Christians who believe in this are called Christian Zionists. The modern Christian Zionist movement flourished in the United States during the nineteenth century and reached Japan through Japanese students who went to study in the United States and returned to Japan bringing Christian Zionist ideas back with them.

Members of this movement number millions of people in the world nowadays but they mostly live in the West and mainly, in fact, in the United States. Those Japanese who adhere to this religious ideology are followers of a sect called Makuya.  This sect was founded in Japan in the middle of the twentieth century, by a person called (Abraham) Ekuru Teshema (d.1973). Makuya is now the most famous and also the most active Christian sect in Japan and it is estimated that it has over seventy thousand followers and 100 centres which are scattered between California, South Korea, Taiwan and Hawaii.

There is little information available about the founder of the sect.  According to the information that we do have about him he was a merchant and joined one of the Christian movements of the time and became active within it.  He embarked on a trip during the Second World War and went to China and Korea. This trip in fact remains a mystery. No one knows for sure what the purpose of this journey was.  It is possible that he went there as a Christian missionary but we do not know for certain. There is also another mystery about his life that when he came back from his trip he was sought by the Americans who were occupying the country at this time, and to avoid capture he went up to the mountains and hid himself there until he felt it safe enough to come out of hiding.

It is reported that when he did come out of hiding he claimed that he had heard a mysterious voice telling him to call for the reform of the teaching of the scriptures.  He decided to devote himself to this mission and duly abandoned his business. He gave an importance to the Old Testament as well as to the New. As a result he gave much attention and respect to ancient Israel and the God of Israel and called on Christians to go back to the Hebrew origin of Christianity and to give respect to the Jews.  He said in the introduction to one of his books “It is necessary that we give a fitting respect to the Jews if we want to understand the true Christianity”. He also called for a deeper understanding of the Jewish faith and Jewish history because he said that it is necessary for a complete understanding of the scriptures. Ekuru Teshema had met some Jewish philosophers like Marrin and had also read Abraham Hatchel, the Jewish philosopher.  These philosophers had an influence on him as did Jewish symbols and rituals.

As a result, the sect began to use the Menorah (candelabrum) which is the symbol of the state of Israel, together with other symbols of the Jewish faith.  They embroider this symbol on the clothes they use during their ceremonies and they also place it in a prominent position during their worship. The Makuya also celebrate what they call Simhat Makuya similar to Simhat haTorah (the Joy of the Torah) which is celebrated by Jews yearly after they complete the reading of the Torah (Old Testament).  The Makuya also sing Israeli popular songs particularly the one called Golden Jerusalem which is related to the occupation by Israeli troops of the city of Jerusalem which they call “liberation”.

These people also consider Saturday as a rest day as the Jews do and light candles and eat a kind of Keshrut (food allowed by Jewish law).  They also use a Jewish prayer book and have learned to speak Hebrew, and, perhaps, in order to facilitate their Hebrew studies have compiled the first Japanese-Hebrew dictionary.  Members of the sect also use Hebrew personal names as well as their Japanese ones.

The founder of the sect Ekuru Teshema visited Israel for the first time in 1961 and a year later he took some of his followers with him and they stayed in one of the settlements.  Since then his followers go there regularly every year. Some of them stay there for quite some time to learn about agricultural techniques and they also learn the Hebrew language.  While they are there they put on a garment coloured with blue and white (the colours of the Israeli flag) and go around the streets in Jerusalem holding up the Israeli flag and singing Israeli songs in a way that attracts the attention of passers by.

On one of his visits to Israel Ekuru Teshema met the former president of Israel, Zalman Shazar, and explained to him how he had come to the conclusion that the Japanese are the descendents of the ancient lost tribes of Israel.  He wrote a book on the subject called “The Ancient Diaspora of the Jews and the Tribe of Hada” in which he identifies the ancient Japanese tribe of Hada with the Jewish tribe of Judah and he suggests that they came to Japan during the third century AD.

During the Israeli-Arab war in 1967 Ekuru sent some of his followers to fight on the side of Israel and one of them was wounded during this war.  After the war Ekuru went to Israel with a delegation to offer his congratulations to Israelon its victory and he and the delegation went round Jerusalem singing and praising Israel and carrying a banner with the words “Congratulations on a Greater Jerusalem”.  They said that their joy was beyond description because of the conquest of Jerusalem. In this year Ekuru Teshema’s name was inscribed in the Israeli Golden Book which contains the names of people (usually non Jews) who have helped or help Israel in different ways.

Several times the sect has invited General Uzi Narkees who led a military unit to the east part of Jerusalem during the 1967 war to visit Japan.  They call him the liberator of Jerusalem. Every year they also go to Israel to celebrate Independence Day together with the Israelis. They organise demonstrations from time to time in support of Israel and when the Japanese Red Army attacked Ben Gurion airport killing and injuring several people, Ekuru Teshema went at the head of a delegation to offer his condolences.  In 1972 Ekuru had thousands of his followers demonstrate in Tokyoin support of Israel. This was the first demonstration of this kind in Japan.

During the years when Israel was demanding that the former Soviet Union let Jews leave the country, members of the Makuya sect were praying in their churches which face Russia for the release of the Soviet Jews.

Although this sect is basically a Christian sect it still practises some rituals which are not common in Christianity.  One of these rituals is walking on fire bare-footed, which they call hiwatari. Although this is something practised by other Japanese groups, the Makuya sect gives it a different meaning.  It says “It is an expression of sincerity towards the God of the Torah (Old Testament) and as such the fire does not hurt the people who walk on it and does not burn them because their faith is strong and their belief is solid.  While they are performing this ritual they gaze at a huge Jewish Menorah (Candelabrum) which is normally placed in a prominent position and they also sing songs of the Zionist Palmakh gang (the gang which fought the Arabs before the establishment of Israel).  This is one of the aspects of the influence of Zionism on them.

The other ritual they practise which has no connection with Christianity is standing under freezing water for some considerable time.  They read Hebrew prayers while performing this ritual which they call Mesauji. This ritual is also practised by other Japanese people and it may be of Japanese origin.  This practice, it is said, lifts the spirit and purifies the mind.

The members of the Makuya sect usually marry among themselves and do not marry outside. These people are probably influenced by their belief that they are descendents of the so called lost tribes of Israel and so are following Jewish practice.  On this subject the founder of the sect has written a book as we have mentioned above.

It is worth mentioning here that this belief is not unique to Ekuru but some other prominent Japanese Christians also believe in it.  Among them is Ashimoro Kanzo (d.1930) who was a priest and graduate of an American university. Kanzo was also a Christian Zionist who wrote many books and articles on the subject.  Nikada Juji (d.1939), also a Christian Zionist, was likewise a priest who founded a small Christian sect. In one of his books he said that Japan would help the Jews to occupy Palestine.  This sect gave help to some of the Jewish refugees who went to Japan during the Second World War.

Among other prominent Christian Zionists who have all written books on aspects of the subject are Oyabe Zenichiro (d.1941) who had a Ph.D from the United States, Yanibara Tadwa (d.1961) a disciple of Kanzo who was a former president of Tokyo University, Yoshiro Sikay (d.1965) who was a graduate of Oxford University in Semitic and Eastern Languages and Anasa Weji (d.1970.)

It is possible that these people were influenced in their idea of the relationship between the Japanese and the Jews by the Scottish missionary Norman McLeod who wrote a book on this subject which was published in 1875 with the title “Epitome of the Ancient History of Japan”. The book found popularity among some Japanese who believed its content and among whom were the priests and scholars I have mentioned above.

The belief of Christian Zionists in Japan in the Jewish origin of the Japanese people still has adherents in that country and in more recent times a prominent Japanese scholar, Arimasa Kubo, has written many articles on this subject and has also created a website devoted to it. He has also translated “The Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japanese People” by Joseph Eidelburg which is the latest book to be published on this theme.  This continuing belief among these Japanese scholars in the Jewish origin of their people shows how enduring this idea actually is, as this desire to trace and identify the lost tribes of Israel has extended as far as those distant islands.

Notes

1-Parfitt,Tudor, The Lost Tribe of Israel:The History of a Myth,London 2002

2-Eidelberg,Joseph,The Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japaness People

Jerusalem,2005

3-Encyclopedia Judaica,Year Book 1977-8,Makuya

4-htt:/www.makuya.or.jp/index.htm

William Blackstone – a Christian Zionist who devoted his life to the establishment of a national Jewish home. By Dr. Jaafar Hadi Hassan

William Blackstone was born in a town called Adams in New York State in 1841.  At this time the U.S. was going through a religious revival which was called the Third Awakening.  Adams was particularly affected by this revival as it was the home of a famous theologian and preacher, Charles Finney (d.1825) who played a prominent role in this movement.  It was said that Blackstone was very much influenced by this atmosphere from his youth and he was ‘born again’ since he was 16-17 years old. He began to attend religious circles and meetings for the study of the Bible and began to be influenced by a movement whose main proponent was John Nelson Darby (d.1882) who was British of Irish origin.  Through his intensive study delving into the Bible he came up with a theory which says that the world has to pass through seven dispensations and we are about to enter the seventh dispensation in which Jesus will appear and rule the world for one thousand years (millennium).

But before Jesus reappears there will be many events and disasters which will strike the world and its people such as plague, fire, volcanoes, floods and so on.  This would continue for a seven year period which he called tribulation. Then the Anti-Christ will appear to fight the Battle of Armageddon. During this battle Jesus will save the believers personally and he will take them to heaven and they will come down with him when the battle is over and the Anti-Christ is defeated.  And this he calls the Rapture. Then Jesus will start his rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years, a rule which will be characterised by peace and prosperity. Darby also believed that this whole process should include another important element that is the gathering together of the Jews in Palestine which he thought to be necessary for this process to work.  This movement is now called Dispensationalism after the seven Dispensations which divide the phases of history.This movement nowadays has a huge following particularly in the United State.

Blackstone became a staunch believer in this theory and began to propagate its principles.  In 1878 he published a book called “Jesus is Coming” which sold one million copies and was later translated into 20 languages.  Subsequently he left his job as a business man and devoted his life to preaching. He then moved to Chicago and established an organisation called American Messianic Fellowship International.  One of his main works in this organisation was to help the Jews to settle in Palestine and for this reason he embarked on a trip to the Holy Land where he met some Jewish emigrants and encouraged them to stay.  He praised their work and said to them that their living in Palestine is a blessing to the Ottoman Empire and promised them help. After his trip Blackstone began seriously to gather as many Jews as possible in Palestine as he thought that this would hasten the reappearance of Jesus.  Then in 1889 he convened a conference which was attended by Jewish and Christian personalities which was the first time this had happened. This conference was convened under the banner of the past, present and future of the Jews.

At the end of the conference the participants declared that the Jews should be helped to emigrate to Palestine and found their national home and they demanded that the American government use its influence and prestige with other countries to treat Jewish communities better.  They also demanded that the Russia about whose treatment the Jews were complaining, should “lift its hard hand from these people” and the participants sent a letter to the Tsar to that effect.

In 1891 Blackstone presented his famous memorandum to the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison.  The memorandum was entitled “Palestinefor the Jews”. In it he defended the Jews and deplored their condition in Russiawhich he described as miserable.

He began his memorandum by asking the question “What should be done for the Jews of Russia?” and the answer he gave was “Why do not we give them Palestine back”.  He quotes several verses from the Old Testament which he thought prophesised their return to Palestine.

And in order to help the Jews to go to Palestine and to found a national home he suggested to the President and his Foreign Minister that they start a political action in order to implement this idea and to convince European countries and empires to convene an international conference “To look at the condition of the Jews and the possibility of helping them to live in Palestine and remove their suffering”.

He also said in the memorandum “That the time has come for the Christian nations to have compassion on the Jews and to take them back to their land”.  He also suggested that the Ottoman Empire be compensated for Palestine with the participation of rich Jews in this project.

Blackstone signed the memorandum in his capacity as Chairman of the Jewish Christian Conference with four hundred and thirteen personalities who also signed with him.  Among them were congressmen, judges, heads of churches, industrialists and editors of newspapers and included John Rockefeller and W McKenally who subsequently became President of the United States and who was assassinated during his second term of office.

Blackstone attached a letter with his memorandum addressed to the President and his Secretary of State detailing the ideas laid out in his memorandum.  In this letter he emphasised that the signatories were only a few but represented a very large number of people who supported the memorandum. He also mentioned in his letter that he had visited Palestine in 1889 and found that founding a national home for the Jews in Palestine was in fact practicably possible and politically acceptable.  Again he emphasised the Old Testament verses which indicated the return of the Jews to that country. He also requested the convening of an international conference and stated in the letter “My wish is that the President and his Foreign Minister will have the honour to concern themselves with this great matter and to secure a national home for the Jews through such a conference”.

He mentioned to them that if they did that their deed would be like that of Cyrus II the Persian king who let the exiled Jews go back to Palestine to build their temple.  When the President received the memorandum he promised to look at it.

Blackstone also wrote articles emphasising the ability of the Jews to establish a state which could take millions of them and he also mentioned the commercial advantage to the West.  In his articles he also stated that the country needed only a government which could prepare it for the emigrants, and said this government should have control over the area of the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

He also suggested the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple which in his opinion would encourage the Jews, particularly the Orthodox, to go to Palestine.  On this point he is in agreement with the Zionist Christians who likewise call for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple.

When the Zionist Movement appeared on the world stage at the end of the 19thcentury Blackstone was in touch with its leaders.  When the Ugandan option was suggested by Britain to Hertzel, the leader of the movement, after the option of al-Arish was abandoned, Blackstone discouraged him and sent him a copy of the Old Testament marking the verses which he thought prophesised the return of the Jews to Palestine.  This copy is now in the Hertzel Museum in Israel.

Blackstone continued to write and give public talks about his ideas regarding the return of the Jews to Palestine and the Second Advent of Jesus and when the book of “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was published he wrote articles in newspapers criticising the content of the book saying that it was false and accusing those who believed in it of being anti-Semitic.

He travelled to many countries including the Middle East preaching and publicising his book.  He also went to China after translating the book into Chinese. During the First World War he published a second edition of his book and it was a best seller at that time because of the events of the war which Christians thought would usher in the Second Advent of Jesus .  During this time he submitted his memorandum again to President Thomas Woodrow Wilson and this time it was signed by 80 well-known personalities. He also attached to it a letter in which he stated “I was honoured to get support to submit the memorandum on behalf of the Jews and I am convinced that the development of events indicated that the time is approaching  to take a noble decision like the one taken by Cyrus II, King of Persia. I am sure of your sympathy and your desire to help the Jews in their miserable condition and I pray that you will seize this opportunity to secure for yourself and for our nation the blessing which God promised to Abraham and his seed and to show mercy to the Jewish people”.

The memorandum had a very positive reaction among the Zionists of America.  This is clear from a letter written by Lewis Brandeis, the leader of the Zionist Movement in the United States, addressed to James Rothschild which states regarding the memorandum “A memorandum was written for this purpose (supporting the Zionist idea) and it was signed by many well-known Christian personalities and it will be submitted to the President at the right time in order to gain more support”.  Brandeis also wrote a letter to Blackstone in which he praised his efforts and expressed his great happiness with all his work for the benefit of the Zionist Movement and appreciated the influence which the memorandum had had. Brandeis also said to him in his letter that he considered him the father of Zionism “Because your work preceded that of Hertzel”. Brandeis also considered him as the most important non-Jewish ally of Zionism.

Before he died in 1938 Blackstone left a great amount of money in his will to Brandeis to help the Jews to emigrate to Palestine – Blackstone died in 1938.  Some scholars such as Maxwell Koda believe that Blackstone’s efforts and activities on behalf of the national Jewish home played a big role in the emergence of the Zionist Movement.  Others say that Blackstone is considered one of the few Americans who played a very important role in establishing a national Jewish home. The newsletter of the Zionist Emergency Committee said on the 50th anniversary of his memorandum “It proposed a real solution like that which Hertzel proposed in his book “The Jewish State” and Blackstone should be considered as the pioneer of political Zionism”.  The Encyclopaedia Judaica has an entry on him and in it it praised Blackstone’s Zionist activities and his efforts towards establishing a home for the Jews. It also states that his memorandum might have had an influence on President Wilson in his support for the Balfour Declaration which was issued by the British government in 1917 regarding the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  In appreciation of his work towards this cause, Israel planted a big forest in his name.

The American Messianic Fellowship International which he founded more than a century ago is still functioning particularly in its efforts to help immigrants to Israel.  It also has a big website. This organisation calls for the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in its place.

 

Jews in the Arab Lands – a Brief Historical Perspective from the mid 7th Century until the 19th century, According to Jewish Sources By Dr. Jaafar Hadi Hassan

 

Both Islam and Judaism have their origins among the Semitic peoples of the Middle East. Differences between the two faiths obviously exist, of course, but in spite of these, the followers of both religions were able to live side by side for many centuries in the lands governed by Muslim rulers. One of the most important reasons for this co-existence is that Islam considers the followers of Judaism “Ahl al-kitab” (people of the Book) and believers in one God and regards their prophets as both holy and as messengers of God. Indeed, there are some Quranic verses to that effect. As people of the book, therefore, it is not surprising that the Jews were usually left alone to practise their religion and regulate their internal affairs according to their own customs and traditions.

According to Abraham Halkin “The extension of internal autonomy to the Jewish communities under Islam made possible the continuance of a Jewish way of life or at least the semblance of it” and in the words of one of the Jewish leaders in Palestine, Yehudai, “When the Ishmaelites (The Muslims) came they left them (the Jews) free to occupy themselves with the Torah”. ( N.Rejwan, The Jews of Iraq pp. 87 and121 ). There is little information about the condition of the Jews in the Arab lands in the first two centuries of Islam. But the little that we do have shows that the Jews had welcomed the Muslim rulers. According to one report, the Jews of Iraq who had suffered from persecution at the end of Sassanian Persian rule (226-642AD) sympathetically received the Muslim conquerors of the land. It is reported that in 658 AD the head of Punbeditha Academy, R. Isaac (d. 660AD), went out to welcome the fourth Caliph Ali b. Abi Talib with many thousands of Jews and was recognized by him as the spiritual leader of the Jewish community. (S.W.Baron A Social and Religious History of the Jews vol.3, p.99).

A statement in an apocalyptic book called “Mysteries of Rabbi Simon bar Yohai” apparently written in part during the days of the Arab conquest of Palestine in the seventh century says “The Holy one blessed be He, is only bringing the kingdom of Ishmael in order to help you (the Jews) from the wicked one”. (S.W. Baron,op. cit. vol 3, p. 93) A remarkable development that one ought to mention here is that soon after the Islamic conquest the Jews in general in the Middle East gave up the languages they spoke such as Aramaic and adopted Arabic. This was in striking contrast to the situation in medieval Christendom, where the Jews made very limited use of Greek and virtually none of Latin. The period discussed in this paper had witnessed a number of Muslim empires in the Arab Lands. First of these was the Umayyad Dynasty which lasted until the middle of the eighth century and ruled from Damascus. We have very little information about the situation of the Jews during this period. However, it is related that the Umayyad Caliphs exercised tolerance towards non-Muslim subjects and employed both Jews and Christians, some of whom obtained high posts in the government hierarchy. It is attested that several Jews were in the court of Maawiya the first Caliph of the dynasty and during the reign of Abdul Malik a Jew was in charge of the mint . When Fustat (Old Cairo) was founded in the seventh century a relatively large Jewish community established itself there. The Abbasid empire which followed, lasted from the eighth to the thirteenth centurie. When Baghdad was founded by the second Caliph al-Mansur in 762AD many Jews moved to the city to live . Baghdad soon became the centre not only of the Muslim Empire but also of Babylonian Jewish learning and life. Shortly after its emergence as a capital and metropolis, it gradually became the seat, first of the Exilarch (head of the Jewish community) and then of the Geonim (Heads of Jewish Academies) (N.Rejwan, op. cit. p. 99). The traveller Benjamin of Tudela writing in the second half of the twelfth century about the Jews of Baghdad says “There are approximately 40,000 Jews in Baghdad, among them scholars and exceedingly wealthy people. They live in peace and tranquillity and honour under the great Caliph and there are twenty eight synagogues and ten yeshivot (religious schools).” Then he goes on to tell us about the elaborate procession of the Exilarch through the streets of Baghdad. He also mentions that the Muslims called him “our master” (sayyidna) the son of David. In Kufa a major centre of trade and learning, the Jewish community there grew very rapidly. Of even greater significance though was the Jewish community in the city of Basra which rivalled Kufa as an intellectual and commercial centre.

In all these centres of Islamic culture and literature, educated Jews developed a considerable taste for literature in Arabic whether it was poetry, philosophy, history or other subjects. They even used the Arabic language to discuss Jewish theology. David Sasson says the following about the Jews in Basra in the ninth century: “We find scholars and medical men who were born in Basra officiating in Palestine and in Egypt”. ( N.Rejwan op. cit. pp. 83-84). In this period some important works were written by Jewish scholars such as the first Arabic translation of the Bible by Saadia Gaon who lived in the tenth century in Iraq. It is worth mentioning here that some Jewish authors in this period, encouraged by the tolerant scholarly climate, felt free to criticise the basic tenets of the Muslim faith and were often outspoken in their critique while enjoying a wide circulation of their work without any overt hindrance by the authorities. An example of this is a book, written by a prominent member of the Jewish community, the philosopher, Ibn Kammuna (d.1285) who lived in Baghdad, entitled “Critical Inquiry into the Three Faiths”. The author allotted to Islam almost two thirds of the book in which he defended Judaism and criticised the Muslim faith. (N Rejwan, op. cit p. 161). Such literature did not cause any immediate reprisals from the Muslim authorities and, most significantly, we have no record of the burning of any Jewish books by Muslim authorities ( S.W.Baron, op. cit.vol.3, pp 133-134). A good deal of easy social intercourse particularly in earlier times existed amongst Muslims, Christians and Jews who, while professing different religions, formed a single society in which personal friendship, business partnerships, intellectual discipleships and other forms of shared activity were normal and, indeed, common. A testament to this social cooperation is the fact that Jews often attended Muslim festivities and family celebrations, and entertained Muslim friends in their homes (S. W. Baron op. cit.vol 3 pp.132-4). In the sphere of trade Jewish merchants were free to travel throughout the empire to do business in different types of merchandise. In this regard the Jews were not subject to occupational restrictions such as we find in Europe in the period we have discussed. After the Mongol conquest of Iraq in1258 the Jews suffered and indeed did the rest of the population. We have little information about the Jews in this turbulent period. In Palestine, another centre of Jewish learning, religious schools were established and their academy in Tibarias, headed by Gaonim, flourished. This city was also the centre for a group of scholars who for the first time developed vocalization for the Hebrew Bible and standardized its text around the eighth century. Some scholars believe that this work was influenced by what the Muslims had done in regard to the Quran a century earlier. (See J. H. Hassan “The Jewish Qaraite Sect pp.83-84 ). The Jews in Palestine also began to build new synagogues, the most famous of which was the synagogue of Anan b David, (founder of the Jewish Qaraite sect) which was built in the ninth century. This sect also called on its followers to emigrate to Palestine from many different countries.Cosequently it became the main centre of their activities and learning. In Egypt the number of Jews increased when according to documents from Cairo Geniza a considerable number of Iraqi Jews emigrated there from the mid eighth century and established a separate community called the Iraqi congregation ( N.Rejwan, op.cit. p 98). During the Fatmid Period many Jews who had only recently settled down in North Africa moved to Egypt with them in 969 AD when they conquered the country.

At this time Egypt became the centre of a vast and powerful empire which at the end of the tenth century, included Syria and Palestine as well as almost all of North Africa. The unification of these countries brought a period of prosperity to the region in both industry and commerce from which the Jews also benefited. Of even greater importance perhaps was the characteristically tolerant attitude adopted by the Fatimids towards non-Muslims. They permitted the construction and repair of non-Muslim houses of prayer, and according to some Jewish sources they even granted financial support to the (yeshivot) Jewish religious schools in Palestine. Encyclopaedia Judaica, Fatimids). They also intervened to solve Jewish sectarian disputes. The only ruler of this dynasty to depart from the policy of tolerance towards non-Muslims was al Hakim (d.1020) who, in fact, also discriminated against some sections of Muslim society, such as women. Towards the end of his rule, however, he did change his policy. The first vizier of the Fatimids was Jacob ibn Killis (991), a Jew who converted to Islam but remained loyal to his former coreligionists. He appointed a Jew “Menassah al-Qazzaz” to head the administration in Syria. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, ibn Killis) Al-Kazzaz utilized his power on behalf of the Jews and granted many of them positions in the government. His son Asiya was also a high ranking official. In the eleventh century the office of the Nagid (head of the Jewish community) was established and some of these Nagidim also became court physicians.

During this period some Jews reached very high positions among them Abu Sa’ad al-Tustary (Abraham b. Yashar) who had the power to make and break viziers, a power which he did in fact exercise (N.Stillman,The Jews of the Arab Lands, p.51). In the early 12th century the chief minister of agriculture was a Jew called Abu al-Munajja (Solomon ben Sha’ya) who ordered the digging of the canal which still bears his name. According to some Jewish authors the Jewish community of Egypt in the Early Middle Ages was affluent, influential and on the whole stable and secure and well organized. There was a sizeable Jewish population in Egypt during the eleventh and twelfth centuries and over ninety cities, towns, villages and hamlets with Jewish inhabitants are known (N.Stillman op. cit. p. 48-52). Life continued to be well organized and Jewish cultural and religious activities were maintained during the time of the Ayyubids (1121 AD-1250 AD) who ruled from Egypt to East Asia in the East and Yemen in the South. This new dynasty showed tolerance towards Jews and Christians. In 1190 Saladin allowed the Jews to settle again in Jerusalem after the Crusaders had compelled them to leave the city and consequently their numbers in Palestine increased. In Syria a lengthy list of physicians and government offcials is mentioned by the Hebrew poet Judah al-Harizi when he visited the country in the 1st quarter of the 13th century. Egyptian Jewry benefited from the stable regime and Jewish scholars from Christian countries came to join the communities. The most famous Jewish scholar and philosopher who lived at this time was Maimonides, who was also a physician of Saladin. The autonomous organisation of the Jewish communities in Egypt remained intact and continued under the leadership of the Nagidim during the rule of the Mamluks. This dynasty were former slaves brought by the Ayyubids from Russia and the Balkan peninsula who came to power in Egypt in 1250 AD and also ruled over Palestine, Syria and adjacent regions in North Africa and Asia Minor.

Although the Jews in this period did experience limitations and restrictions imposed on them by the government and there occurred the occasional violent popular outburst, these never turned into massacres such as took place in the wake of the Crusades (75). Any discrimination that did take place in this period against the Jews was not aimed specifically at them but also included Arabs who, for example, were not allowed to dress like the Mamluks or ride horses. In Spain the Jews not only welcomed the Muslims when they conquered the country in 711AD but in fact they actively made alliance with them against the Visigoths.This seems to be a very rare occurance in the history of the Jews.(N.Stillman, The Jews of the Arab Lands. pp.24and54) The immediate sequel to the conquest was that many Jews who had left Spain at the time of religious persecution by the Visigoth kings and their descendants, returned from North Africa where they had found shelter. The economic situation of the Jews in Spain prospered and they were successful in many occupations including medicine, agriculture, commerce and crafts. Jewish scholarship and culture flourished alongside its Arab counterpart and was influenced by it. A real Jewish cultural revival began in the tenth century when Cordoba was a centre of both Arab and Jewish culture. This was the time of the political rise of the court physician, diplomat and statesman Hasdai b. Sharput who headed diplomatic negotiations with Christian rulers on behalf of the Caliphate. Another personality who should be mentioned here is Samuel Hanagid (d.1055) ( known by the Arabic name of Ibn Nagrila) who was both scholar and poet and served as vizier and commander of the army of Granada for more than 25 years. Furthermore, he was also head of the Jewish community in Islamic Spain. It is interesting to note that he too was the author of a criticism of the Quran which was cited by the contemporary Muslim historian and philosopher ibn Hazm. (Encyclopedia Judaica ,Ibn Nigrila ). Some Jewish contemporaries of Samuel Hanagid in Saragossa and Seville also rose to the ranks of Vizier and in the words of Norman Stillman, author of “The Jews of Arab Lands” “no office, except that of the ruler, seemed out of the reach of a talented and ambitious Jew”(. p. 57). B.J. Bamburger states in his book “The Story of Judaism”, “Oppressed for centuries under the Christian Goths, the Spanish Jews began a new and happy era in the eighth century when the peninsula was conquered by the Arabs. Under a series of enlightened Moslem rulers they attained a status of security and honour such as they had not known since their own national life was destroyed. In numbers, wealth and prestige the Jewish community of Spain became by far the greatest in the world. The civilisation to which they belonged was the most advanced seen by Europe between the decline of Rome and the Renaissance.”(p.154).

In North Africa, the Jews in general led a relatively peaceful existence and those of Hafside Tunisia, in particular, enjoyed the most tranquillity of any North African Jewish community during the period of the Middle Ages. Only the narrow minded al-Mohads who ruled in North Africa and Southern Spain at one point forced Jews and Christians to convert to Islam. The later al-Mohads, however, modified their stance and permitted non-Muslims to practise their religions. (Lewis 52) . Jewish authors stress that the al-Mohad period was a definite aberration in the history of the Jews in the Arab lands, or any Muslim country for that matter. Salo Baron says that al-Mohad extremism was exceptional and proves the general rule that under Islam the Jews resided in their respective countries as of right, and not merely on temporary sufferance (111. p.127). In the 13th and 14th centuries, some Jews in the Further Maghreb, as Morocco was called in Medieval Arabic, rose to high positions. One of these was Aaron b. Batash, who was a Vizier during the reign of Abd al-Haqq b. Abi Sa¢d (1421-1465) (N. Stillman,op.cit. 79) and Abraham Cabassa, head of the Spanish community in the Kingdom of Marrakesh who was minister to the First Saadian Sultan in the 16th century. His brother Samuel was financier of the court and another brother Isaac controlled Morocco’s foreign trade.

The fifteenth century saw the rise of a new and powerful Turkish Dynasty, the Ottomans, who conquerd much of the Middle East and North Africa. As Muslims they continued to allow the Jews in their domains to practise their religion and regulate their internal affairs. The The Ottoman government was happy to provide a haven for large numbers of Jewish refugees from the Iberian peninsula. Sultan Beyezid II (1481-1512) welcomed the Sefardic Jews into his realm and issued firmans (decrees) to his provincial governors specifying the terms of Jewish settlement and ensuring the protection of the newcomers (87) Beyezid is said to have considered Ferdinand of Spain a fool for impoverishing his own kingdom while enriching his (N.Stillman,op. cit. 87). The Jewish refugees from the expulsions of 1492 and 1496 were soon followed by Marranos (Jews who had been compelled to accept Catholicism) fleeing the terror of the Inquisition. When Egypt, Syria and Palestine all became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517 large numbers of refugees began taking up residence in these countries as well. (N.Stillman,op. cit pp.82-88) The prosperity and relative security of the sixteenth century was enjoyed by Jews in most of the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In each province, Jews lived their own independent communal life (Stillman p.90). and some of them such as Don Joseph Nasi, Soloman b. Ya’ish and Moses and Joseph Hamon became very influential at the Sublime Porte. The Turks created the position of Hakham Bashi (Chief Rabbi) and the position of Sarraf Bashi (Chief Banker) a position which usually had a Jewish occupant. Jewish communities were internally organized and stable but the decline of the Empire after the sixteenth century was, of course, reflected in the life of Jews in the provinces of the Empire. The rise and fall of the False Messiah Shabbatai Zvi in the seventeenth century, whom many Jews believed in and followed from Poland to Yemen did nothing to help their situation and in fact caused harm to many of their communities. Few prominent scholars are known to us from this period. One of them is Joseph Caro (d. 1575) the author of a well known manual on Jewish law called ‘Shulhan Arukh”. Another is Isaac Luria (d.1572) the famous Cabbalist. Both of these scholars lived in Palestine. After reforms were introduced by Sultan Muhamuad II (d. 1839) and continued by Sultan Abd al-Majid (d.1862) the situation of the Jews and the Christian minorities greatly improved and they participated fully in cultural and economic life and began to hold government posts, to establish businesses and to found schools for their children.

Throughout Ottoman times the situation of the Jews in Arab lands was generally peaceful and undisturbed. In summary one can perhaps state the following points: Throughout the centuries Jews lived in the Arab Lands and managed to live together in relative peace and harmony. They did not experience anti-Semitism, expulsions or massacres nor were they forced to live in ghettos as Muslim law never called for segregated quarters for different faiths. Also they were not forced to convert as the overwhelming majority of Muslims accept the Quranic dictum “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256) Those that did convert were usually welcomed and well treated and they were absorbed rapidly into Muslim society. Of course there were some exceptions but these, fortunately were very few.

* This paper was presented at a seminar held in the House of Lords on the 25th of March 2004. Other speakers were Ms. Karen Armstrong and Professor Bernard Wasserstein.

ISRAEL AND PAKISTAN ON THE WAY TO NORMALISING RELATIONS By Jaafar Hadi Hassan

The Pakistani and Israeli foreign ministers have met publicly for the first time.  This meeting came about after Israel had decided to withdraw from Gaza after 38 years of occupation.  After the meeting Silvan Shalom, the Israeli foreign minister, called it a “historic and huge breakthrough” and expressed his happiness and said “We are hoping to establish diplomatic relations between our countries”.  The Pakistani foreign minister, Khursheed Kasuri, said that Pakistan had decided to “engage” with Israel and called the meeting “a gesture to underscore the importance we, in Pakistan, attach to Israel ending its occupation of Gaza”.

Historically this was not the first contact between the two countries aiming at establishing diplomatic relations.  In fact, contact with this aim in mind goes back to the 1940s, almost immediately after Pakistan and Israel joined the United Nations.  The two representatives of the two countries at the world body, Abba Eban (later foreign minister of Israel) and Ahmed Shah Bukhari, initiated the contact to establish diplomatic relations.  The Pakistani foreign minister at the time, Zafarulla Khan, whom the Israel Intelligence Service called al-Ahmedi (because he was of the Ahmediyya Sect) encouraged the contact. Zafarulla Khan also called on Arab countries to make peace with Israel after the Arab Jewish war ended in 1948.

The contact (negotiation) continued for some time but ceased when the Prime Minister of Pakistan Liyaqat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951, the cause of which remains a mystery.  According to a report submitted by Abba Eban, Pakistan was on the verge of recognising Israel.

It is not known why Pakistan started these early contacts with Israel despite the disquiet among people in the Muslim world after the United Resolution in 1948 to divide Palestine, as a result of which Israel emerged as an independent country and also despite the uproar and demonstrations in Pakistan itself at the time.  

The suggestion of Abba Eban that the reason for this contact was that Pakistanwanted to embarrass India which had not recognised Israel yet, was not, I think, either a good or a justifiable one.  Later on there were other contacts between the two countries though they were not very serious ones. These contacts took place in the 1950s, between the Pakistani foreign minister Fairuz Khan Noon and Shabtai Rosen, an Israeli ambassador.  There were also some casual and clandestine contacts.

One of these clandestine contacts is detailed in a recently published book by the journalist George Crile in which he mentions the secret deals by the Pakistani army, then headed by General Zia ul Haq, and Israel, through the CIA, for weapons to supply the Afghan Mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union.

The recent initiative by Pakistan towards Israel was prepared for by some statements by the Pakistani leader, Pervez Musharraf, such as his statement in an interview with a private TV channel in 2003 in which he said “We have to review our policy towards Israel and to look at it anew devoid of sentiment …because we do not want to be Palestinians more than the Palestinians themselves and not to be Catholics more than the Pope”.  And when Shimon Perez met him two years ago at the Economic Forum in Davos in Switzerland the former said to him “There are many rumours that relations have been established between our two countries”. Musharraf replied by saying “We are putting great efforts towards this aim but you have to make progress towards the conflict with the Palestinians”. President Musharraf also agreed for the first time to give a speech to a conference in America organised by a Jewish group, which was convened last September and in the same month met Ariel Sharon during the United Nations Summit meeting.

It is also reported that he was saying to the Americans who have always pressurised him to recognise Israel and to do so publicly, that he was waiting for the right moment to do this.

According to the Jerusalem Post General Musharraf himself initiated the recent contact and he himself wanted it to be public and Turkey was asked to hold the meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries.  However, he subsequently emphasised in New York during the UN annual gathering that there would be no normalisation with Israel until after the Palestinian State was established. The Pakistani foreign minister stressed that the meeting did not mean recognition and this would come after progress in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.  But I believe such statements by the Pakistani officials are made only to calm the domestic and Muslim opposition to this move. Because there was some disquiet in Pakistanwhen the meeting took place and one of the opposition leaders in Pakistan said “It is a dark day for the Pakistani people and we object to (diplomatic) relations with Israel”.

Regardless of how much Pakistan tries to trivialise the move, it is obvious that it is the beginning of the normalisation of relations.  This was emphasised by the Israeli sources which said that the next move would be to cancel the ban on Pakistanis travelling to Israel so that the Pakistani people could travel to Israel in great numbers, as Pakistan is the second largest Muslim country after Indonesia.  This would then be followed by delegate visits at ministerial level and so on. All these activities would finally be crowned by the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Many people have asked the question what prompted Pakistan to take this step despite the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians which has not yet been resolved?  Has Pakistan been pressured or does it need diplomatic relations with Israel?

Some analysts believe that there are two important issues at work here.  One of them is Pakistan’s relations with the United States and the other is its relations with its historical enemy India.  As for its relations with the former, Pakistan has come to the conclusion that to get the support and help of the United Statesparticularly after the invasion of Iraq, it should establish diplomatic relations with Israel as the United States had been asking President Musharraf to do.  The opportunity for Pakistan came when Israel decided to withdraw from Gaza.

As for its relations with India, Israel established official relations with India in the early 1990s and has been developing them since then and one of the important aspects of these relations was military involvement such as selling equipment, arms and sophisticated planes to India besides the exchange of intelligence information.  And because of all this Pakistan, the experts say, wanted to balance this relationship in order that, that between Israel and India would not be at her expense, and she would not be on the losing side. Some believe that Pakistanalso needs to send her students to improve their knowledge of technology and advanced science at Israeli universities because the United States is putting many conditions on her students after the 11th September.

Whatever the reasons are, relations between the two countries will have important implications for the politics of the Middle East.  First of all it will open the door wide for other Arab and Muslim countries many of whom are now negotiating in secret with Israel for this very purpose.  This relationship will be very beneficial economically to Israel as it has many goods and a lot of expertise to export to Pakistan. In addition, many Pakistanis will flock to Israel as tourists and this will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the Israeli economy.  With this relationship Israel will have another important country to support it in the international organisations by which Israel is complaining that she is neglected and not given a role suitable to her status in these organisations.

There is another advantage Israel will gain in that she will be closer to Iran which she considers an existential threat to her and  enemy number one plotting to destroy her and she will be able to gather intelligence more effectively.

Lastly there is another important point which not many people are aware of which is related to the Judaising of some tribes who live between Pakistan and Afghanistan and who some Jewish organisations think are originally Jewish but who converted to Islam many centuries ago.  Jewish organisations such as Kullanu (all of us) and Amishab (my people returned) are working very hard but secretly to convert them to Judaism. Some of these activities include publishing books and making videos. These operations will be easier after Israel has established diplomatic relations with Pakistan.

The Law of Return, the Chief Rabbinate and the Status of Non-Orthodox Jews in Israel By Dr Jaafar Hadi Hassan

It is a well known fact that most of the population in Israel are immigrants who came to the country according to the Law of Return which was passed by the Israeli Knesset in 1950. This Law, in conjunction with a later Nationality Law, gives every Jew the right to settle in Israel and acquire instant, automatic citizenship. It is worth mentioning here that the Religious Authority in Israelrecognizes as Jews only those who are born to a Jewish mother or were converted to Judaism according to the Halakhah (Jewish Religious Law) as interpreted by the Orthodox. However, among the groups which emigrated according to this law, were followers of some sects which are not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate, the Religious Authority, in Israel. They are considered non-conformist. This paper will deal with these groups which faced and are still facing problems with the Religious Authority and with Orthodox Jews in general, regarding their Jewishness. The state, nevertheless, still encourages them to emigrate and grants them citizenship in order to help fill the land, in this case, with people whose Jewish origin is not recognized by the Religious Authority.

One of the earliest of these groups which emigrated to Israel according to the Law of Return and has encountered problems with the Chief Rabbinate ever since their arrival in the country, are the Qaraites. The Qaraites are a Jewish sect which was founded in the eighth century AD by Anan ben David in Iraq and subsequently spread to many other countries.1 From its inception this sect did not recognize the Talmud which is considered by mainstream Jews as the second source for the Jewish religious law after the Torah (Old Testament). Consequently when the Qaraites arrived in Israel the Chief Rabbinate refused to recognize their Jewishness. In fact they considered them heretics and as such their marriages and divorces invalid. In addition, their marriage with non-Qaraite Jews is not sanctioned by the Religious Authority. When former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Nissim was asked if there was any way that a marriage between a Qaraite and non-Qaraite could be validated, his answer was that it is impossible unless the Qaraite converts to Orthodoxy. He even said that “the position of a Qaraite is worse than the position of the Christian who wants to become Jewish because of the doubtful legitimate birth.” Additionally, the former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Ulterman said “Our stand was defined through the generations and ages that our sages cursed any one who would remove the ban on marriage to the Qaraites and, therefore, the ban is impossible to remove.”2 As a result of this, the Qaraites cannot be issued with marriage and divorce certificates which naturally creates problems for them, and also cannot be buried in Jewish cemeteries, serve on religious councils etc. Consequently Qaraite leaders have repeatedly tried to resolve their ambiguous status. They applied in 1960 for separate recognition of their religious council, but were talked out of it by the head of the state, Ben Zvi. He, together with other secular Jews, wanted to avoid a legal distinction between Qaraites and other Jews. Similar appeals were made in 1962 and in 1965 and although the government refused these appeals, it did, however, form a Commission for Examination of the Personal Status of the Qaraites. After a year’s deliberation it issued its recommendations which called for granting the Qaraites legal authority over their own personal status and for recognition of their religious courts. After several years’ delay and several more public appeals by Qaraite leaders, a bill to the effect was introduced in the Knesset. It was not passed.3 The Qaraites nowadays are considered a separate sect and because of this they feel betrayed by the state and treated as second-class citizens. As a result many of them, frustrated by this treatment, have emigrated to France, Canada and the United States.

Another Jewish group which faces problems in Israel with the Chief Rabbinate is called the progressive group, mainly the Reform and the Conservative (Masorti) Jews. These groups have different opinions from the Jewish Orthodoxy regarding the Torah and the Talmud. They recognise female rabbis and have many other different practices which do not conform with the Jewish Orthodoxy. These people have therefore faced discrimination from the Religious Authority since the establishment of the state. When they complained of discrimination against their kind of Judaism in the early years of the state, Ben Gurion and Golda Meir told them that their movements would be accepted in Israel only if sufficient numbers of their members settled in the Jewish state. The Religious Authority considers this group, like the Qaraites, as a separate sect and does not recognise any conversions to Judaism they perform in Israel or outside it as valid. When the Reform Jews demanded that their conversions be accepted in Israel, the conversion authority in the Chief Rabbinate office proposed the recognition of the Reform Jews as a separate religious community in Israel and stated “Reform is anyway a different religion in every manner – it allows intermarriage…and does not believe in the Torah.” The former Sephardic chief Rabbi Itzhak Nissim even stated that Reform is not a religion and said “Freedom of religions is intended for members of all religions, including minorities, but it is not intended to achieve the opposite objective with the result that the dominant religion in the state, Judaism, be jeopardized and torn asunder…Reform is not a religion”.4

Orthodox Rabbis and politicians have used every opportunity to delegitimise and harass progressive Jews. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel is always warning practising Jews not to attend Reform and Conservative services. A statement circulated in 1984 proclaimed that “it is strictly forbidden to pray in Reform and Conservative synagogues. Whoever prays in such a place almost certainly has not fulfilled the obligation of Torah reading, or prayer”.5 Progressive Rabbis are not permitted to serve as army chaplains, officiate at marriage ceremonies, serve on religious councils etc. According to this group, Israeli schools and textbooks portray them in a very stereotyped way, as inherently assimilationist and anti-Zionist, in spite of the fact that they are very active Zionists and have two Zionist organizations, one called ARZA which belongs to the Reform Jews and one called Merkaz which belongs to the Conservatives. The followers of progressive Judaism number many thousands in Israel and in spite of the stance of the Religious Authority towards them, the government still encourages those outside to emigrate.

The followers of Reconstructionist Judaism are considered to be in the same category and treated in the same way. This movement was established by Rabbi Mordacai Kaplan in the 1930s in the United States after he had published his book “Judaism as Civilization”. This book provides the foundation for the Reconstructionist ideology. According to Kaplan, Judaism should be understood as evolving religious civilization. He believes that in order for the Jewish community to survive, Judaism must eliminate its authoritarian dogmatic features. In particular, Judaism must divest itself of supernatural beliefs such as belief in a supernatural God. Kaplan also believes that the Bible is the work of many people in many ages and does not believe that the Halakhah (the Jewish Religious Law) is holy and unchangeable. In their prayer book the Reconstructionists have eliminated all references to the Revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai and the doctrine of the personal messiah and the Jews as the chosen people. Kaplan and his followers were excommunicated by the Orthodox for expressing atheism, heresy and disbelief in the basic tenets of Judaism.6

Yet another of these groups is that of the Ethiopian Jews who are known as the Falashas and who call themselves Beta Yesrael. These Jews were brought to Israel, according to the Law of Return, in two operations in the nineteen eighties and early nineties of the last century. Their number is estimated now at about 70,000. Ever since their arrival in Israel the Chief Rabbinate has cast doubt on their Jewishness. The reason given was that the Ethiopian Jews had totally lost contact with Jewish laws (implying non-recognition of the Talmud). In the eyes of the Rabbis they were considered “mamzerim” (illegitimate children) and their marriage contracts were not recognized and, consequently, neither were their divorces.7 They were asked to convert to Orthodox Judaism. One of the requirements for conversion to Orthodoxy is circumcision, which the Ethiopian Jews have practised. However the Chief Rabbinate did not recognize the manner in which circumcision was practised by them. There were also other rituals which they had to undergo and observe. Some of them conformed to this conversion but the majority of them rejected it as they considered it to be insulting and humiliating. Some declared it to be pure racism, protested and demonstrated and about 30 people committed suicide in 1985-1987 because of the discrimination against them.8 Because of these problems some of the Ethiopian Jews began to join Reform or Conservative Judaism for recognition and some began to shun Judaism in general, and Israelis in particular, and have begun looking for an identity and culture of a mixed African and Caribbean type. They have begun to talk about black nationalism, stating their belief in that, rather than in Judaism.

The Messianic Jews are another group which faces problems in Israel with the Religious Authority. These people who number several thousand in Israel today consider themselves Jews, but also believe in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, whereas all other Orthodox Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to come. Because of this group’s belief in Jesus, the Chief Rabbinate does not recognize them as Jews. In fact, some ultra-Orthodox want the followers of this sect to be forced to become orthodox or be deported and they have established organizations to fight this group, to spy on them and inform the Ministry of the Interior about their proselytising activities. The best known of these organizations is called “Yad L’ahim” (Strength for the Brothers). Messianic Jews are often harassed and persecuted by the Orthodox. In 1997 two Knesset members proposed a bill which makes the printing, possession, reproduction, distribution or import of religious material that induces conversion criminal offences, punishable by a year in jail. The Messianic Jews criticized this bill and said “The bill criminalizes basic human rights and limits the freedom of people to tell about their beliefs”.9 Nevertheless, despite all this, their number is on the increase and they have many places of worship.

A further group of non-conformist Jews who emigrated from the United States to Israel, according to the Law of Return, are the Black Jews who call themselves Hebrew Israelites. The first group of these people arrived in Israel about 1969 and since then others have followed. Although the authority doubted their Jewishness they were allowed to stay temporarily and recently were granted residence. They now number a few thousands and their number is increasing because of their high birthrate. They too, like other non-conformist Jews, are not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate in Israel because they believe only in the first five books of the Old Testament and the Talmud has no authority over them. They also differ from the Orthodox Jews in believing that Jesus is a prophet of God. In addition they do not celebrate some of the important Jewish festivals and do not practise all Jewish rituals. They believe too that the founder of the sect and their current leader, Ben Ammi, is a prophet. The Chief Rabbinate asked these people to convert to Orthodox Judaism as otherwise they would not be recognized as Jews, but they rejected this suggestion fiercely and considered it an insult. Now they live in Israel as residents but not as citizens, nonetheless there is no doubt that the government will eventually grant them citizenship.10 A well known incident occurred recently which confirms the non-recognition of this group by the Orthodox Jews, when one of their members was killed on 17th January 2002 and was not allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery by the Religious Authority and was buried outside it.11 Another group that I would like to mention here are followers of Secular Humanistic Judaism which appeared in the sixties of the last century in the United States. This sect, like the majority of those already discussed, has many followers all over the world including Israel. These people believe in a Judaism devoid of a divine element. They profess to be atheists and believe that Judaism was the creation of the Jews. They also deny the existence of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and consider the Exodus account to be a myth. According to them, the Biblical account is not authoritative, rather, it is a human account of the history of the Israelites.12 Although the beliefs of this sect go against the basic tenets of Judaism they are active in Israel and work for their brand of Judaism publicly and have their own synagogues.

Another group which emigrated in the latter years of the last century came from Russia. Many thousands of them are not considered proper Jews. According to the head of the Conversion Authority at the Chief Rabbinate, Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, up to 300,00 of the recent arrival (of Russians) maybe gentiles, (non-Jewish) but only 5,000 have converted. Many of these arrivals are Christians and others are not interested in becoming Jews.13 Others say that almost 50 per cent of the total population of the Russian immigrants are non-Jewish.14 But these immigrants have, nevertheless, been granted citizenship, given accommodation and all kinds of help and are very active in supporting and maintaining the State. The fact that the Religious Authority does not recognize any of these groups and sects did not and does not in any way deter the State from encouraging them to emigrate, welcoming them and assisting them to settle in every way. In other words, using the Law of Return as an instrument in order to fill the land with people who say they are Jewish. This policy is a deliberate one and it is not new. In fact it has been pursued by Israel for a long time so that displaced Palestinians or their descendants will have no land to return to. This goes against the UN Resolution No 194 which demands that Israel allow them to return to their homeland.

Notes

  1. On the Qaraite history and belief see Jacfar H Hassan, The Jewish Qaraite Sect (Arabic). 2. S.Z. Abramov, Perpetual Dilemma pp.282-3. 3. D. Ross, Acts of Faith p.142. 4. W. Frankel, Israel Observed pp.217-8 5. M.A. Meyer, Response to Modernity, A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism p.468. 6. Dan-Cohn-Sherbok, The Future of Judaism pp.135-137 7. R.S. Feuerlicht, The Fate of the Jews p.206 8. T.G. Wagaw, For Our Soul : Ethiopian Jews in Israel pp.118-9 9. The Jerusalem Report 29/5/1997 10. On the history and beliefs of the Hebrew Israelites see M. Launds (Jr) Israel’s Black Hebrews. 11. The Jerusalem Report 11/2/2002 12. The main reference on the subject of Secular Humanistic Judaism is “Judaism Beyond God” by Sherwin T Wine (a prominent exponents of this sect). 13. the Jerusalem Report 25/12/1997 14. D. Siegel The Great Immigration , Russian Jews in Israel, p.64 *This paper was given at the international conference on the Israeli Law of Return, which was held at the University of London in April 2002.

2003

The Jerusalem Wall Cuts Off Thousands of Palestinians From Their City By Dr. Jaafar Hadi Hasan

It is no coincidence that the decision by the Israeli cabinet, to accelerate completion of the wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem, was made on the first anniversary of the ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Hague that it was illegal and contravened international law, and demanding it be dismantled. However, Sharon showed the world his customary disregard of international decisions, by not complying and rejecting them.

 

The stepping up of the construction of the wall came after the majority of the temporary injunctions by the Israeli court were lifted. These had only halted work while the government introduced cosmetic changes that did not change its nature or effects.

 

Once complete, the Jerusalem wall that will surround this city, will be 48km long, and rising to nine metres or more in height. It is part of the wall Israel was putting up between itself and the West Bank over the past two years; totalling 680km in length, and grabbing 8% or more of the lands of the West Bank, while cutting of some Palestinian villages and towns, and scattering their inhabitants once complete.

 

The main objective of the Jerusalem wall is to expel as many Palestinians as possible from within the city boundaries, while absorbing Jewish settlements, some with high population density like Maa’leh Adumim; population 30 thousand. On its completion, areas like Kafr ‘Uqab, Qalandiya, Sha’faat refugee camp, and others will be outside the city limits of East Jerusalem. Israel says that the inhabitants of these areas number 55 thousand, while the Palestinians assert that the number is more than double that.

 

These Palestinians will be denied all education, health, and other services that they had been receiving when they were a part of Jerusalem; in the long term, some of them will lose their jobs or their businesses. Some had expressed the fear that Israel may declare them absent and so confiscate their possessions. Their entry into Jerusalem will depend on the whim of the soldiers manning the entry points Israel will put in the wall. There they will be subjected to rigorous search and identity checks, their fate no different from their compatriots in the West Bank; standing for hours in long queues, suffering difficulties and persecution making their life hellish.

 

According to Lubulianski, mayor of Jerusalem, the number of those entering and leaving stands at 65 thousand, including 3,500 schoolchildren – this will mean waiting for many long hours. This mayor – a Haridim Jew – had earlier described the wall as a talisman of good fortune, or one of the “gates of life”, even though it would provoke the anger of Palestinians and their hatred.

 

These words are in harmony with the mentality that builds the wall. In the sight of these persons, whatever causes torment and anguish to the Palestinians, is considered a gate of life. This torment will not only lash those leaving their city, but will be visited on those staying in it as well.

 

In addition to what the inhabitants of East Jerusalem were subjected to for many years, in terms of persecution in living space, their homes subject to demolition on the pretext of unauthorised building – the latest being the decision by the mayor a few weeks earlier to demolish 90 homes – prohibiting construction of new dwellings or extensions, then the geographical area will most definitely cease to accommodate them, especially after many of them had been displaced to the city centre, having learnt that the wall will be built in their areas, and will expel them from these.

 

In addition, their siege by the Jews will become more acute in future,, especially as the orthodox/Haridim Jews were slowly taking the place of the secular Jews, who had started to vacate the city many years ago. These Jews give birth to large number of children, twelve or more per family. Their model is the mayor himself, a Haridim Jew, with twelve children, and from them fifteen grandchildren until now, and he is expecting more.

 

According to what he has mentioned, the number of births in Jerusalem reached 18 thousand in 2004, and according to predictions more than two-thirds of these were to Jews, the population of the city was 700 thousand, of which two-thirds were Jews.

 

It goes without saying, that the objective behind building the wall is the Juda-isation of the city, and expulsion of the Palestinians from it by any means, so that Israel presents the Palestinians with a fait d’accompli, and ends all aspirations that East Jerusalem could be the capital of their future state.

 

What Israel is doing today is not only a contravention of international law, but contrary to the spirit of the times that rejects all forms of racism; its actions are an embodiment of such racism. The individual in face of the inaction of the world – despite the voices of criticism and courageous decisions to boycott – can only hope that the wall will cease to be one day, as other walls before it were also made to come crashing down.

 

  • Iraqi academic living in London – this article was first published in Al-Hayat newspaper, and is re-published here by kind permission of the author.