A shadow was cast on Israel’s long and proud history of actively bringing long-lost Jews from Ethiopia when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali told Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that some of the evacuees were officers implicated in war crimes.
Channel 13 cited a security official in a report claiming that at least four of those evacuated to Israel were officers who engaged in war crimes, with at least one of those involved in a massacre that took place in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as the civil war that has been raging in the region for over a year intensified recently. The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Thursday issued a travel warning for Ethiopia after the African country issued a nationwide state of emergency
The report comes in the wake of another report by Haaretz claiming that Israel has detained dozens of recent Ethiopian immigrants on suspicion that they had falsified claims of being Jewish. An investigation by the Population Authority revealed that 53 out of 61 Ethiopians were brought to Israel in a secret operation at the request of a private Israeli citizen, who had immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1996 and wanted to bring his ex-wife and people who ran his business to Israel. Authorities had only been able to confirm Jewish ancestry in four people from the group, a source told the paper.
Unlike previous Ethiopians, these 61 were not part of the community of Ethiopians known to identify as Jews but, rather, had their Jewish status affirmed by ministers in the current Israeli government who signed their requests to immigrate.
It should be noted that Ethiopian immigrants from the Beta Israel community are recognized as fully Jewish. Members of the smaller Falash Mura community are required to undergo Orthodox conversion after immigrating as their ancestors converted to Christianity, often under duress.
The Haaretz report cited an Immigration and Population Authority document as saying, “There are serious doubts regarding the petitioners’ relationship to Jewish ethnicity despite their affidavits,” read the report from the Immigration and Population Authority.
“Most of the petitioners did not come from a combat area as claimed and were not in life-threatening danger,” it continued.
“The feeling that was received was that a planned conspiracy had been created here that took advantage of the system,” reads the summary of the official document, signed by the director of the Temporary Populations Division in the Immigration and Population Administration, Michal Yosefoff, Haaretz reported.
Senior government sources stated that the new immigrants would be allowed to remain in Israel regardless of their Jewish identity. There has been a lot of pressure to bring Ethiopians into Israel as the situation in the country deteriorates. Over 2,000 Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel in the past year but there are thought to be 7,000 to 12,000 Ethiopian community members still waiting to come to Israel, many of whom live in the Tigray region.
Relations between Israel and Ethiopia have a Biblical precedent and as well as prophetic implications. Modern-day Ethiopia is believed to be in the same geographical location as Biblical Cush, established by the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah. Tzipora, Moses’ wife, was from Cush. Later, Cush became a powerful nation, engaging Israel in battle several times, perhaps most notably when Judah’s King Asa and his army marched out to fight Zerah the Cushite. Isaiah also mentions Cush, describing it as a “powerful and oppressive nation” (Isaiah 18:1–2).
In contrast to Cush’s glorious past, God’s judgment against Cush is seen in Ezekiel’s prophecies, which mention how Cush’s wealth and power would be taken away (Ezekiel 30:4–5). This is related to the prophetic role Cush will play as an ally of Gog and Magog.
“This is how it begins,” Rabbi Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, said. “It used to be that no one would disguise themselves as a Jew. We were so oppressed. But the nation of Israel has returned to its former glory. When people read about Gog and Magog 100 years ago, they could not imagine the Jews in a war. Now, foreigners disguise themselves as Jews, to take part in the good life we have built in our homeland and, perhaps, to prepare for the final war against us.”
“The Israeli government should be ruling according to Biblical principles which mean taking care of its people. Instead, they care more about foreign nations. Perhaps they are concerned that they will be called racist or be seen as violating liberal values. In truth, other governments are far crueler and don’t care about appearances.”