Over twenty thousand Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel to escape hardship in three covert military operations, called Moses, Joshua, and Solomon. This ancient community of jews called Beta Israel (House of Israel in English), were isolated from the rest of the Jewish world for centuries.
Many possible origin stories for the “Beta Israel” abound with some of the most accepted being that they are descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Dan or of Menelik I, the son of the biblical King Solomon and Queen Sheba. In 1975 Israel officially recognized the Beta Israel as eligible for immigration under the Law of Return after numerous Jewish rabbis around the world had already accepted the Beta Israel as authentic Jews.
The Beta Israel community had languished under the dictatorship of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam since 1973. When they received eligibility to move, eight thousand Ethiopian Jews had already immigrated to Israel by 1984. The Ethiopian dictator Mengistu eventually forbade the Jews to leave Ethiopia, and in the early 1980s, many of them had to illegally cross into Sudan and attempt walking to Israel.
Thousands of migrants died along the way, causing Israel to intervene. About seven thousand Beta Israel were covertly flown from Sudan to Israel in Operation Moses in late 1984 over a period of 6 weeks. Arising from pressure from Arab states, Sudan stopped allowing the emigration in January 1985 making many Ethiopian Jews there to be stranded.
Some months later, the United States evacuated 500 Jews from Sudan to Israel in Operation Joshua. After this operation, Israeli leaders had difficulty in convincing Mengistu to allow the remaining Beta Israel to leave. In 1990, Israel and Ethiopia finally reached an agreement that allowed Jewish emigration.
In 1991, the situation of the Beta Israelis became desperate when rebels seized control of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, threatening the country with political collapse. An emergency mission to evacuate them was embarked on by Israeli officials, dispatching thirty-four planes. The seats on many of these planes were removed to increase their passenger capacity; one plane set the record for most passengers carried aboard a Boeing 747 at 1,087 people.
Starting on May 24, 1991, over a period of thirty-six hours, more than 14,000 Beta Israel were flown to Israel in the remarkable Operation Solomon. Hundreds of babies were born aboard the flights, and many doctors were mobilized to assist the sick and help take care of the newly-born upon arrival in Israel.
More than 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel today. The community has been able to largely integrate into Israeli society despite economic and social challenges, including racism. There are current efforts to bring the remaining Ethiopians with Jewish origins whose total population is disputed, to Israel.
The real identity of the ancient Hebrew/Jews has been one that has been in contention, between those who claim that the real Israelites were the Caucasians (of today’s Israel) and those who have proven with historical and Biblical data that the ancient Israelites were Black/dark people.
The proof that Jews were purely black was changed by the creation of the European-Israeli state on May 14, 1948. Since then, the identity of the real Jews has become a thing of argument. While this argument is raging, this article lays credence to the fact that ancient Israel had a black population, and the evidence available made the operation Moses, Joshua, and Solomon possible.
Have you heard about this before? What do you think of this history?