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“Once they were kings. A half million strong, they matched their faith with fervor and out-matched the Moslem and Christian tribesmen around them to rule the mountain highlands around Lake Tana. They called themselves Beta Israel – the house of Israel – and used the Torah to guide their prayers and memories of the heights of Jerusalem as they lived in their thatched huts in Ethiopia.”
-Jewish Virtual Library-The History of Ethiopian Jews
Republicans’ passion to support Israel stems from the desire to capture the vote in a country where the majority of people side strongly with Israel. The Republicans’ most reliable primary voters, conservatives and evangelical Christians, are fanatically pro-Israel, pro Life and Anti-Contraception. They and their growing Israeli counterpart now face a nasty dilemma.
The Growth of Pro-Life Groups in Israel
According to new numbers , released January 16, 2013 from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), support for pro-life groups, has been growing as Israel’s top rabbis have thrown their weight behind Efrat, a controversial group that opposes abortion.
The Israeli news service Ynet reported that rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar wrote an open letter sent to Israel’s rabbis, stating, “We view the Efrat association’s activity, aimed at saving the lives of Israel’s children, as extremely important.”
The letter also stated that “killing a fetus is like murder.”
Similarly, Messianic group Be’ad Chaim (which is Hebrew for “pro-life”) “enjoys a considerable level of cooperation with state authorities, enabling it to help young women with unplanned pregnancies across Israel,” reports Israel Today.”
Israel’s Long Standing Controversy Over Ethiopian Jews
Israel is home to the largest Beta Israel community in the world with about 130,000 citizens of Ethiopian descent who are mainly assembled in the smaller urban areas of central Israel. One third of the Israeli Ethiopian Jews are native born Sabras.
After 300 years of religious persecution by Christians and Muslims, in 1975, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren wrote to the Beta Israel telling them, “You are our brothers, you are our blood and our flesh. You are true Jews.” Later that same year, the Israeli Inter-ministerial Commission officially recognized the Beta Israel as Jews under Israel’s Law of Return, a law designed to aid in Jewish immigration to Israel. The Beta Israel were going home.
In contrast, and from the onset, many Jews sought any delay they could impose in the rescue of the Beta Israel. Dr. Graenum Berger, founder of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ) declared,
“Not when Jews are dying…these revelations show once again that the policy of influencing factions of the government of Israel always have been against the immigration of the Ethiopian Jews. And, the same people who controlled their immigration then are controlling it now. These are the same people who gave instructions to the Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia (1956-1973) not to issue immigration visas to any Jew from Ethiopia.”
For almost 20 years Ethiopian Jewish women who did get visas, were forced to take Depo-Provera contraceptive injections as a condition of gaining entrance to Israel. The contraceptive – which is given by injection every three months – is considered by many doctors as a birth control method of last resort because of problems treating its side effects.
Use of the contraceptive by Israeli doctors has risen threefold over the past few years. 57 per cent of Depo Provera users in Israel are Ethiopian, even though the community accounts for less than two per cent of the total population. About 90,000 Ethiopians have been brought to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but their Jewishness has always been questioned by some rabbis and is doubted by many ordinary Israelis.
In the past decade, births among Ethiopian women in Israel have fallen by nearly 50 percent, according to an Israeli TV report which recently exposed the fact that Ethiopian immigrant women have been coerced into taking contraceptive injections.
After a month of denials, on Jan 26, 2013, an Israeli government official for the first time acknowledged the practice of injecting women of Ethiopian origin with the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera.
Contraceptive shots began in the Jewish aid compounds in Gondar, continued in the transition camps (1) in Addis Ababa, and on after their arrival in Israel.
“I went to the health clinic and I was told that Ethiopian immigrants were given the contraception because they couldn’t be relied upon to take the pills every day,” Mangoli said.
According to the women’s testimony, this continuity appears to have been a coordinated effort between the medical staff at the clinics in Ethiopia run by the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and doctors in Israeli hospitals and clinics.
- During the famine and political instability in late 1984 and early 1985, thousands of Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan as part of the Israeli government’s “Operation Moses” and the US government’s “Operation Sheba”. More than 12,000 Beta Israel (2) had been airlifted to Israel in late 1984 and early 1985, when the Ethiopian regime halted the program. The airlift resumed in 1989, and about 3,500 Beta Israel emigrated to Israel in 1990. Nearly all of the more than 14,000 Beta Israel remaining in Ethiopia were evacuated by the Israeli government in May 1991. By the end of 1999, virtually all Beta Israel who were practicing Jews had been flown to Israel.(“Falashas: The Forgotten Jews,” Baltimore Jewish Times, 9 November 1979).
A Marriage of Pro-Life and Forced Contraception-The American-Israeli Alliance
In the US, Republican politicians are fighting for the right of employers to refuse women contraceptive coverage in their health insurance, and proposing bills in state legislatures around the country aimed at eradicating abortion services.
When the true leader of the Republican party, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, made remarks about contraceptive mandates that included statements characterizing Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute”, the media had a field day. Limbaugh was commenting on Fluke’s speech the previous week to House Democrats in support of mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives. Despite disapproval from major political figures, Limbaugh made numerous similar statements over the next two days.
Roberto Bachi, the first director of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics and an adviser to the Council for Demographic Problems, also advocated policies to increase Jewish fertility.
“The demographical ‘competition’ between the Arabs and Jews in Israel will be decided not only by the number of immigrants we manage to bring to Israel, but first of all by the reproduction of Arabs and of Jews,” he wrote in a secret 1944 report. “Therefore, we must aspire to a bigger increase in the birthrate and in order to achieve it we must create a comfortable environment and appropriate conditions for a multitude of children.”
“Hospitalization is free in Israel……Yet the Israeli system does not cover any form of contraception. This reinforces Israel’s pro-natal policy and the medical establishment’s technological bias.”
One- I am an atheist who survived 2 bar mitzvahs. I have never listened to Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly or any Catholic protector of child molesters, because I don’t require purges or mental enemas. I cannot accept arbitrary religious arguments made for the most part by men, which do not allow women to make one of the most important decisions in their lives. I therefore expect that the American Right nut jobs will address this dichotomous Israeli scandal, that conflicts with their life’s work, with a thundering silence.
Two-I lost one grandfather, one grandmother, two aunts and one uncle in the death camps. I cannot fathom how a nation created by and for survivors of these camps, which is rabidly pro-natal and discourages contraception for its citizens, could conceive of an institutionalized program of forced contraception to prevent specific birth, something dangerously close to genocide, in a population so small it is an inconceivable threat.
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