African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem - Accusations of Anti-Semitism and Current Relations With The Israeli Government

Accusations of Anti-Semitism and Current Relations With The Israeli Government

On several occasions Ben Ammi and the community have been accused of anti-semitism. As well as denying the Israelite heritage of world Jewry and its claim to the land of Israel, the stalemate between the community and Israel in the late 70s led to heightened tensions and according to the Jerusalem Post, "Ben Ammi mounted a worldwide public-relations offensive against the government that dripped with anti-semitism. Community newspapers compared the Israelis to Nazis and included images of money-grubbing Jews and other stereotypes". However, relations improved during the 1990s as the Hebrew Israelite community distanced themselves from the overzealous and ineffective extremist stance taken up in earlier years. The group has since become a valued part of both the Dimona community and wider Israeli society and has pursued integration in ways such as volunteering to serve in the IDF.

In 2011, the Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution which "recognize(s) the Hebrew Israelite Community for its service to the nation of Israel and commend their 40 years of history." Citing the fact that the Dimona-based community is "one of the largest urban kibbutzim in Israel" and "has attracted visitors from around the world because of its healthy lifestyle and organic agriculture," the Assembly concluded and declared that "the culture and tradition of the Hebrew Israelite Community is a rich one, and the Community's numerous contributions are worthy of recognition."

In response to the concerns of anti-Jewish prejudice or stereotyping that arose during their formative years in the land of Israel, community leader Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda states simply that they have "grown up." "As you look back over 30 years you realize that this has grown from the ground up. We've been here 30 years, that means we've grown up together... Our children have gone to schools (and) played in games together so there is another kind of relationship that has grown up."

In August 2008, the Village of Peace received a visit from Israel's president, Shimon Peres, who told the Hebrew Israelites "Your community is beloved in Israel...You give the country happiness and song and hope for a better world"

And in March, 2012, during the community's annual "New World Passover" celebration in honor of their historic "exodus" from America in 1967, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed appreciation towards "the cooperative society that is working towards the inclusion of the Hebrew Israelite community in Israeli society at large," and declared that their experience in the land is "an integral part of the Israeli experience."

While their relationship with the State of Israel is maturing, the Hebrew Israelites still express concerns as to the direction that the country is heading. During an interview with Haaretz, a popular Israeli newspaper, Ben Ammi stated that "We must understand that peace will never come, and true freedom will never come, by way of politicians... There's a major difference between the peace that was promised by the Creator and the peace that is being sought after by politicians." This does not mean that they are totally disconnected from the political scene. "We do give advice to politicians; because these individuals who are seen as leaders, if they would hear a message based upon truth, then it would influence that which they say they seek after - and that is peace. But without truth, and without spirituality, there can never be any genuine peace achieved in those lands."

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