Ethiopian Jews Immigration To Israel Essay

1748 words - 7 pages

Following the declaration in 1977 by Israeli government officials that the Law of Return applied to Beta Israel, a flow of Ethiopian Jews have immigrated to Israel with values and traditions that has influenced the emerging society in their host country. Ethiopian Jews tend to possess more differences with Israeli Jewish culture in comparison to other immigrant groups and it is this that makes their adaptation to society a multifaceted process. The emergence of Zionism promised freedom, redemption, revolution, liberation and normalization ; concepts that appealed to Beta Israel who had been persecuted in Ethiopia. Simultaneously however, Israel was facing worldwide immigrants including those ...view middle of the document...

In conjunction with this, it was the generally unstable conditions in Ethiopia that led to the unusual immigration of Ethiopian Jews. The early waves of Ethiopian immigrants, which occurred in 1979-1983 and during the mid 1980s, involved covert operations; which consisted of unforgiving journeys through deserts and resulted in the deaths of thousands of Ethiopian Jews . There were two main missions: Operation Moses and Operation Solomon. The Jewish Ethiopians who came with Operation Moses fled from Ethiopia to Sudan following the deteriorating political and economic situation in Ethiopia and subsequently waited a long time at refugee camps in Sudan. Occurring between November 1984- January 1985, Operation Moses was facilitated by the Americans to allow refugees from refugee camps to be transported to a military airport near Khartoum in Sudan where they were flown to Israel. Whilst meant to be a secret mission, news leaks essentially ended the operation. However it was deemed successful as over 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown to Israel. Three months later, a follow-up mission brought an additional 800-900 Ethiopian Jews from Khartoum to Tel-Aviv. It was in Operation Moses and the follow up mission that families were separated; this led to Operation Solomon in which 14,000 Jews were transported to Israel . Whilst having arrived in Israel, concerns quickly arose for Ethiopian Jews during their assimilation and the culture shock was immediately realized.

Upon their arrival, Ethiopian Jews were immediately subjected to the forced process of adapting to traditional Jewish Israeli culture. They were given Hebrew names; most which had no or little connection to their names, their traditional Ethiopian clothes were exchanged for jogging suits and tennis shoes, and kippots were placed on the heads of children . This attempt was a result of Israel’s use of the ideology of the ‘melting pot’; in which Ethiopian Jews were asked to eradicate their heritage and the absorption of Jewish Israeli ways were encouraged. Whilst the majority of Ethiopian Jews presented enthusiasm for the adoption of Jewish Israeli culture, this would later leave room for resentment from Ethiopian Jews towards Israeli government for disregarding their traditional heritage. The government ministries had created plans to integrate Ethiopian Jews into their host society, however due to these plans not being implemented properly; the results were disappointing and suggested that greater attention needed to be paid to ethnic diversity. As a result, within a short time Ethiopian Jews were subjected to neglect, unemployment, poverty and alienation in hostile surroundings . In addition, all Ethiopian immigrants were placed in absorption centers in development areas, and none in the major population centers, thus creating segregation in society. It has often been blamed on the primitiveness of Ethiopian culture as the reason to the problems that arose during their assimilation to Jewish...

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