From Tragedy to Triumph: The Politics Behind the Rescue of Ethiopian Jewry

From Tragedy to Triumph: The Politics Behind the Rescue of Ethiopian Jewry

by Mitchell G. Bard
     
 

From 1984 to 1991, Israel conducted a series of dramatic rescues, bringing thousands of Ethiopian Jews to the state of Israel. Codenamed Operation Sheba, this effort involved various covert means, including large-scale airlifts and exchanges for arms, to save these Jews from intolerable conditions in Ethiopia and the Sudan. But as dramatic and uplifting as

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Overview

From 1984 to 1991, Israel conducted a series of dramatic rescues, bringing thousands of Ethiopian Jews to the state of Israel. Codenamed Operation Sheba, this effort involved various covert means, including large-scale airlifts and exchanges for arms, to save these Jews from intolerable conditions in Ethiopia and the Sudan. But as dramatic and uplifting as this effort was, there are still troubling questions about why it took so many years for Israel to act on behalf its African compatriots. This is the complete story behind the Israeli rescue of the Jews of Ethiopia—how tragedy was turned into triumph.

These rescue operations represented the culmination of complex political maneuvering in Israel and illustrated what Israeli resolve can accomplish when Jewish lives are endangered. It was an inspiring effort—as William Safire wrote at the time, thousands of black people are being brought to a country not as slaves, but as citizens. On the other hand, there is much to deplore how long it took for the leaders of Israel to recognize and take action to save this ancient African branch of the Jewish Diaspora, known as the Falasha. The reasons are the result of the complex intersection of Israeli geostrategy, pressure from the American Jewish community, and Ethiopian domestic politics, as well as racism and debates about the Jewishness of the Falasha community.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In 1984, 1985, and 1991, Israel conducted airlifts to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Though he considers this a triumph, Bard (executive director, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise) argues that it was a tragedy that it took so long for these Jews to be recognized. He follows the politics that led to the airlifts and other operations, arguing that a group of activists in the United States were critical in prodding the Israeli government to act. The activity of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews is discussed, with a special emphasis on its frequently fractious relations with the Israeli government and the American Jewish establishment. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780275970000
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
06/30/2002
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

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