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Archive for April, 2009

Swine Flu: What You Need to Know

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 26, 2009


The Biotechnology Company, Replikins, Ltd. published a FluForecast® warning in April 7th, 2008, a year before the recent Mexico and California H1N1 cases. The company was able to state the likelihood of H1N1 outbreaks based on its patented Replikin Count™ genomics technology, which examines specific regions in virus genes which have been linked with past epidemics.

Several hundred people in Mexico and 20 people in the US have come down with a new kind of swine flu. People are concerned because some of those infected in Mexico have died, and because this is the kind of virus that could become a serious worldwide epidemic.

Should I worry about this flu?

Continue reading…


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Laughter Remains Good Medicine

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 24, 2009

New study reports on the mind-emotion-disease model

American Physiological Society, 17-Apr-2009

laughtergodess5The connection between the body, mind and spirit has been the subject of conventional scientific inquiry for some 20 years. The notion that psychosocial and societal considerations have a role in maintaining health and preventing disease became crystallized as a result of the experiences of a layman, Norman Cousins. In the 1970s, Cousins, then a writer and magazine editor of the popular Saturday Review, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. He theorized that if stress could worsen his condition, as some evidence suggested at the time, then positive emotions could improve his health. As a result, he prescribed himself, with the approval of his doctor, a regimen of humorous videos and shows like Candid Camera©. Ultimately, the disease went into remission and Cousins wrote a paper that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and a book about his experience, Anatomy of an Illness:

A Patient’s Perspective, which was published in 1979. The book became a best seller and led to the investigation of a new field, known then as whole-person care or integrative medicine and now, lifestyle medicine.


The unscientific foundation that was laid down by Cousins was taken up by many medical researchers including the academic medical researcher Dr. Lee Berk in the l980s. In earlier work, Berk and his colleagues discovered that the anticipation of “mirthful laughter” had surprising and significant effects. Two hormones – beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that elevates mood state) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with optimizing immunity) – increased by 27% and 87 % respectively in study subjects who anticipated watching a humorous video. There was no such increase among the control group who did not anticipate watching the humorous film. In another study, they found that the same anticipation of mirthful laughter reduced the levels of three detrimental stress hormones. Cortisol (termed “the steroid stress hormone”), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopac, (the major catabolite of dopamine), were reduced 39, 70 and 38%, respectively (statistically significant compared to the control group). Chronically released high levels of these stress hormones can be detremential to the immune system

Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist, of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, has paired with Stanley Tan, MD, PhD an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at Oak Crest Health Research Institute, Loma Linda, CA, to examine the effect of “mirthful laughter” on individuals with diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic syndrome characterized by the risk of heart attack, blindness and other neurological, immune and blood vessel complications. They found that mirthful laughter, as a preventive adjunct therapy in diabetes care, raised good cholesterol and lowered inflammation. The researchers will present their findings entitled Mirthful Laughter, As Adjunct Therapy in Diabetic Care, Increases HDL Cholesterol and Attenuates Inflammatory Cytokines and hs-CRP and Possible CVD Risk. They will present the findings at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS;, which is part of the Experimental Biology 2009 scientific conference. The meeting will be held April 18-22, 2009 in New Orleans.

The Study

A group of 20 high-risk diabetic patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia were divided into two groups: Group C (control) and Group L (laughter). Both groups were started on standard medications for diabetes (glipizide, TZD, metformin), hypertension (ACE inhibitor or ARB)) and hyperlipidemia (statins). The researchers followed both groups for 12 months, testing their blood for the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine; HDL cholesterol; inflammatory cytokines TNF-α IFN-γ and IL-6, which contribute to the acceleration of atherosclerosis and C-reactive proteins (hs-CRP), a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Group L viewed self-selected humor for 30 minutes in addition to the standard therapies described above.


The patients in the laughter group (Group L) had lower epinephrine and norepinephrine levels by the second month, suggesting lower stress levels. They had increased HDL (good) cholesterol. The laughter group also had lower levels of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-6 and hs-CRP levels, indicating lower levels of inflammation.

At the end of one year, the research team saw significant improvement in Group L: HDL cholesterol had risen by 26 percent in Group L (laughter), and only 3 percent in the Group C (control). Harmful C-reactive proteins decreased 66 % in the laughter group vs. 26 percent for the control group.


The study suggests that the addition of an adjunct therapeutic mirthful laughter Rx (a potential modulator of positive mood state) to standard diabetes care may lower stress and inflammatory response and increase “good” cholesterol levels. The authors conclude that mirthful laughter may thus lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome. Further studies need to be done to expand and elucidate these findings.

In describing himself as a “hardcore medical clinician and scientist,” Dr. Berk says, “the best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope. Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment.”


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Remembering The Armenian Genocide

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 24, 2009


Armenia, probably the first country to formally adopt Christianity, was also the first country whose nation had to experience the ugly face of genocide in the 20th century.

Today April 24 is being proclaimed worldwide as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

On the night of April 24, 1915, the Turkish government placed under arrest over 200 Armenian community leaders in Constantinople. Hundreds more were apprehended soon after. They were all sent to prison in the interior of Anatolia, where most were summarily executed. The Young Turk regime had long been planning the Armenian Genocide and reports of atrocities being committed against the Armenians in the eastern war zones had been filtering in during the first months of 1915.

The Ministry of War had already acted on the government’s plan by disarming the Armenian recruits in the Ottoman Army, reducing them to labor battalions and working them under conditions equaling slavery. The incapacitation and methodic reduction of the Armenian male population, as well as the summary arrest and execution of the Armenian leadership marked the earliest stages of the Armenian Genocide. These acts were committed under the cover of a news blackout on account of the war and the government proceeded to implement its plans to liquidate the Armenian population with secrecy. Therefore, the Young Turks regime’s true intentions went undetected until the arrests of April 24. As the persons seized that night included the most prominent public figures of the Armenian community in the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, everyone was alerted about the dimensions of the policies being entertained and implemented by the Turkish government. Their death presaged the murder of an ancient civilization. April 24 is, therefore, commemorated as the date of the unfolding of the Armenian Genocide.

Between 1915 and 1918 the Ottoman Empire, ruled by Muslim Turks, carried out a policy to eliminate its Christian Armenian minority. This genocide was preceded by a series of massacres in 1894-1896 and in 1909, and was followed by another series of massacres beginning in 1920. By 1922 Armenians had been eradicated from their historic homeland.

There are at least two ways of looking at the Armenian experience in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. Some scholars regard the series of wholesale killings from the 1890s to the 1920s as evidence of a continuity in the deteriorating status of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. They maintain that, once initiated, the policy of exposing the Armenians to physical harm acquired its own momentum. Victimization escalated because it was not the countermanded by prevailing outside pressure or attenuated by internal improvement and reconciliation. They argue that the process of alienation was embedded in the inequalities of the Ottoman system of government and that the massacres prepared the Ottoman society for genocide.

Other scholars point out that the brutalization of disaffected elements by despotic regimes is a practice seen across the world. The repressive measures these governments use have the limited function of controlling social change and maintaining the system. In this frame of reference, genocide is viewed as a radical policy because it reaches for a profound alteration of the very nature of the state and society. These scholars emphasize the decisive character of the Armenian genocide and differentiate between the periodic exploitation and occasional terrorization of the Armenians and the finality of the deliberate policy to exterminate them and eliminate them from their homeland.

Like all empires, the Ottoman Empire was a multinational state. At one time it stretched from the gates of Vienna in the north to Mecca in the south., From the sixteenth century to its collapse following World War I, the Ottoman Empire included areas of historic Armenia. By the early part of the twentieth century, it was a much shrunken state confined mostly to the Middle East. Yet its rulers still governed over a heterogeneous society and maintained institutions that favored the Muslims, particularly those of Turkish background, and subordinated Christians and Jews as second-class citizens subject to a range of discriminatory laws and regulations imposed both by the state and its official religion, Islam.

The failure of the Ottoman system to prevent the further decline of the empire led to the overthrow of the government in 1908 by a group of reformists known as the Young Turks. Formally organized as the Committee of Union and Progress, the Young Turks decided to Turkify the multiethnic Ottoman society in order to preserve the Ottoman state from further disintegration and to obstruct the national aspirations of the various minorities. Resistance to this measure convinced them that the Christians, and especially the Armenians, could not be assimilated. When World War I broke out in 1914, the Young Turks saw it as an opportunity to rid the country of its Armenian population. They also envisioned the simultaneous conquest of an empire in the east, incorporating Turkish-speaking peoples in Iran, Russia, and Central Asia.

The defeat of the Ottomans in World War I and the discrediting of the Committee of Union and Progress led to the rise of the Turkish Nationalists. Their objective was to found a new and independent Turkish state. The Nationalists distanced themselves from the Ottoman government and rejected virtually all its policies, with the exception of the policy toward the Armenians.

Distinguishing between the Massacres and the Genocide

From 1894 to 1896, Sultan Abdul-Hamid II carried out a series of massacres of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. The worst of the massacres occurred in 1895, resulting in the death of thousands of civilians (estimates run from 100,000 to 300,000) and leaving tens of thousands destitute. Most of those killed were men. In many towns, the central marketplace and other Armenian-owned businesses were destroyed, usually by conflagration. The killings were done during the day and were witnessed by the general public

This kind of organized and systematic brutalization of the Armenian population pointed to the coordinating hand of the central authorities. Widespread violence erupted in towns and cities hundreds of miles apart over a matter of weeks in a country devoid of mass media. At a time when the sultan ruled absolutely, the evidence strongly implicated the head of state.

Intent of Massacres

The massacres were meant to undermine the growth of Armenian nationalism by frightening the Armenians with the terrible consequences of dissent. The furor of the state was directed at the behavior and the aspirations of the Armenians. The sultan was alarmed by the increasing activity of Armenian political groups and wanted to curb heir growth before they gained any more influence by spreading ideas about civil rights an autonomy. Abdul-Hamid took no account, however of the real variation in Armenian political outlook, which ranged from reformism and constitutionalism to separatism. He hoped to wipe away the Armenians’ increasing sense of national awareness. He also continued to exclude the Armenians, as he did most of his other subjects, from having a role in their own government, whether individually or communally. The sultan, however did not contemplate depriving the Armenians of their existence as a people. Although there are similarities between Abdul-Hamid’s policies and the measures taken by the Young Turks against the Armenians, there are also major distinctions.

The 1915 Measures

The measures implemented in 1915 affected the entire Armenian population, men, women, and children. They included massacres and deportations. As under the sultan, they targeted the able-bodied men for annihilation. The thousands of Armenian men conscripted into the Ottoman army were eliminated first. The rest of the adult population was then placed under arrest, taken out of town, and killed in remote locations.

The treatment of women was quite different. The bulk of women, children, and older men. Countless Armenian women lost their lives in transit. Before their tragic deaths, many suffered unspeakable cruelties, most often in the form of sexual abuse. Many girls and younger women were seized from their families and taken as slave-brides (Sanasarian1989, 449-461).

During the time of the sultan, Armenians were often given the choice of converting to Islam in order to save themselves from massacre. However, during the genocide years, this choice was usually not available. Few were given the opportunity to accept Islam as a way of avoiding deportations. Most Armenians were deported. Some lives were spared during deportation by random selection of involuntary conversion through abduction, enslavement, or the adoption of kidnapped and orphaned children.

The Cover of War

A second distinguishing feature of the genocide was the killing of the Armenians in places out of sight of the general population. The deportations made resistance or escape difficult. Most important, the removal of Armenians from their native towns was a necessary condition of maintaining as much secrecy about the genocide as possible. The Allies had warned the Ottoman government about taking arbitrary measures against the Christian minorities. The transfer of the Armenian population, therefore, was, in appearance, a more justifiable response in a time of war.

When the Ottomans entered World War I, they confined journalists to Istanbul, and since the main communications system, the telegraph, was under government control, news from the interior was censored (Sachar1969). Nonetheless, the deportations made news as soon as they occurred, but news of the massacres was delayed because they were done in desolate regions away from places of habitation. Basically, this provided cover for the ultimate objective of destroying the Armenian population. Inevitably the massacres followed the deportations.

State of Confiscation of Armenian Goods and Property

A third feature of the genocide was the state confiscation of Armenian goods and property. Apart from the killing, the massacres of 1895 and 1909 involved the looting and burning of Armenian neighborhoods and businesses. The objective was to strike at the financial strength of the Armenian community which controlled a significant part of the Ottoman commerce. In 1915 the objective of the Young Turks was to plunder and confiscate all Armenian means of sustenance, thereby increasing the probability of extinction.

Unlike the looting associated with the massacres under Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, the assault against the Armenians in 1915 was marked by comparatively little property damage. Thus, the genocide effortlessly transferred the goods and assets — homes, farms, bank accounts, buildings, land, and personal wealth — of the Armenians to the Turks. Since the Young Turk Party controlled the government, the seizure of the property of the Armenians by the state placed local party chiefs in powerful positions as financial brokers. This measure escalated the incentive for government officials to proceed thoroughly with the deportation of the Armenians.

The Young Turks did not rely as much on mob violence as the sultan had. They implemented the genocide as another military operation during wartime. The agencies of government were put to use, and where they did not exist, they were created. The Young Turk Party functionaries issued the instructions. The army and local gendarmerie carried out the deportations. An agency was organized to impound the properties of the Armenians and to redistribute the goods. “Butcher battalions” of convicts released from prisons were organized into killer units. The Young Turks tapped into the full capacity of the state to organize operations against all 2 million Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire, and did it swiftly and effectively (Bryce1916;Trumpener[1968] 1989, 200-270).

The Use of Technology for Mass Killings

The Armenian genocide occurred at a time when the Ottoman Empire was undergoing a process of modernization. Apart from the new weapons of war, the telegraph and the railroad were being put to expanded use. Introduced in the second half of the nineteenth century, the networks of transport and communication reached the areas of heavy Armenian concentration by the early part of the twentieth century. Whereas the telephone system was largely confined to the capital city of Istanbul, telegraph lines extended throughout the empire. The rail system connected many of the largest towns in the Ottoman Empire, but it was less extensive than the rail networks in the European countries.

The Telegraph

Coordination of the massacres during the reign of Abdul-Hamid II, and of the deportations under the Young Turks, was made possible by the telegraph. Of all the instruments of the state government, the telegraph dramatically increased the power of key decision-makers over the rest of the population. The telegraph system allowed for the kind of centralization that heretofore was impossible.

During the 1895 massacres, the telegraph in the Ottoman Empire was a government service. It was managed by a separate ministry. Therefore, all the communicating during the massacres was done by the Ottoman government. During the genocide of 1915, the telegraph was controlled by the Minister of Interior, Talat, who was in charge of the government agencies tat implemented the genocide. Talat began his government career as a telegrapher, and he had a telegraph machine installed in his office so that he could personally send messages across the Ottoman Empire. This gave Talat immediate connection, literally and technologically, with the enforcement of mass death. His ability to use the telegraph gave him unsurpassed access to subordinates and allowed him to circumvent other government officials and agencies in Istanbul. For the most part a telegram from Talat was sufficient authorization to proceed with the decimation of the Armenians.

Modern states rely on their bureaucracies in order to handle the paperwork involved in carrying out a policy affecting vast portions of their population. The same applies to the policy of genocide. The more modernized the state, the greater the mountain of paper generated. If not destroyed, a monumental record is left behind. In the case of the Armenians, it might be said that their genocide was carried out not so much bureaucratically as much as telegraphically, thus minimizing the record keeping and leaving behind a great deal of confusion about the degree of individual responsibility.

The Trains

To expedite the transfer of Armenians living in proximity of the railways, orders were issued instructing regional authorities to transport Armenian deportees by train. Instructions were explicit to the point of ordering the Armenians to be packed to the maximum capacity in the cattle cars which were used for their transport. The determination of the government to complete this task is demonstrated by the deportation of the Armenians in European Turkey who were ferried across the Sea of Marmara to Anatolia and then placed on trains for transport to Syria.

The removal of Armenians from Anatolia and historic Armenia was carried out mostly through forced caravan marches or by the use of trains. Although a large portion of the Armenians survived the horrific conditions of the packed cattle cars, they were not able to endure the Syrian desert where they were to die of hunger and thirst. In contrast, the majority of the Armenians in the caravans never reached the killing centers in the Syrian desert; many were murdered by raiding groups of bandits or died from exposure to the scorching days and cold nights. Most of those who were able to endure the “death marches” could not survive the starvation, exhaustion, or the epidemics that spread death in the concentration camps of the Syrian desert.

Legacy of the Armenian Genocide

All too often the discussion of genocide centers on the numbers killed and fails to consider the wider implications of uprooting entire populations. Genocides are cataclysmic for those who survive because they carry the memory of suffering and the realization of the unmitigated disaster of genocide. Genocides often produce results and create conditions that make it impossible to recover anything tangible from the society that was destroyed, let alone permit the subsequent repair of that society. From this standpoint, it can be argued that the ultimate objective of genocide is a permanent alteration of the course of a people’s history.

Losing a Heritage

In a single year, 1915, the Armenians were robbed of their 3000-year-old heritage. The desecration of churches, the burning of libraries, the ruination of towns and villages — all erased an ancient civilization. With the disappearance of the Armenians from their homeland, most of the symbols of their culture — schools, monasteries, artistic monuments, historical sites — were destroyed by the Ottoman government. The Armenians saved only that which formed part of their collective memory. Their language, their songs, their poetry, and now their tragic destiny remained as part of their culture.

The Scattering of a People

Beyond the terrible loss of life (1,500,000), and the severing of the connection between the Armenian people and their historic homeland, the Armenian genocide also resulted in the dispersion of the survivors. Disallowed from resettling in their former homes, as well as stateless and penniless, Armenians moved to any country that afforded refuge. Within a matter of a few decades Armenians were dispersed to every continent on the glove. The largest Armenian community is now found in the United States.

By the expulsion of the Armenians from those areas of the Ottoman Empire that eventually came to constitute the modern state of Turkey, the reconfiguration of Armenia took a paradoxical course. Whereas the genocide resulted in the death of Armenian society in the former Ottoman Empire, the flight of many Armenians across the border into Russian territory resulted in compressing part of the surviving Armenian population into the smaller section of historic Armenia ruled by the Russians. Out of that region was created the present country of Armenia, the smallest of the republics of the USSR.

The contrast on the two sides of that frontier spotlights the chilling record of genocide. Three and half million Armenians live in Soviet Armenia. Not an Armenian can be found on the Turkish side of the border.

The Absence of Justice and Protection in the Postwar Period

During the genocide, the leaders of the world were preoccupied with World War I. Some Armenians were rescued, some leaders decried what was happening, but the overall response was too little too late.

After the war, ample documentation of the genocide was made available and became the source of debate during postwar negotiations by the Allied Powers. It was during these negotiations for a peace treaty that the Western leaders had an opportunity to develop humanitarian policies and strategies that could have protected the Armenians from further persecution. Instead of creating conditions for the prevention additional massacres, the Allies retreated to positions that only validated the success of ideological racialism. The failure at this juncture was catastrophic. Its consequences persist to this day.

With the defeat of their most important ally, Germany, the Ottomans signed an armistice, ending their fight with the Allies. The Committee of Union and Progress resigned from the government and in an effort to evade all culpability soon disbanded as a political organization. Although many of the Young Turk leaders, including Talat, had fled the country, the new Ottoman government in Istanbul tried them in absentia for organizing and carrying out the deportations and massacres. A verdict of guilty was handed down for virtually all of them, but the sentencing could not be carried out.

The Istanbul government was weak and was compromised by the fact that the capital was compromised by the fact that the capital was under Allied occupation. Soon it lost the competence to govern the provinces, and finally capitulated in 1922 to the forces of Nationalist Turks who had formed a separate government based in Ankara. As for the sentences of the court against the Young Turk leaders, they were annulled. The criminals went free.

The postwar Ottoman government’s policies toward the Armenians were largely benign. They desisted from further direct victimization, but rendered no assistance to the surviving Armenians to ease recovery from the consequences of their dislocation. Many Armenians returned to their former homes only to find them stripped of all furnishings, wrecked, or inhabited by new occupants. Their return also created resentment and new tensions between the Armenians, filled with anger at their mistreatment, and the Turks, who, because of their own great losses during the war, believed they had a right to keep the former properties of the Armenians. In the absence of the Ottoman government’s intervention to assist the Armenians, this new hostility contributed to increasing popular support for the Nationalist movement.

Rise of the Turkish Nationalists

The armistice signed between the Allies and the Ottomans did not result in the surrender of Turkish arms. On the contrary, it only encouraged the drive for Turkish independence from Allied interference. Organized in 1919 under the leadership of an army officer, named Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish Nationalist movement rejected the authority of the central government in Istanbul and sought to create an exclusively Turkish nation-state.

As the Kemalist armies brought more and more territory under their control, they also began to drive out the surviving remnants of the Armenian population. The Nationalist Turks did not resort to deportation as much as to measures designed to precipitate flight. In a number of towns with large concentrations of Armenian refugees, massacres again took a toll in the thousands. With the spread of news that the Nationalist forces were resorting to massacre, Armenians selected two courses of action. In a few places some decided to resist, only to be annihilated. Most chose to abandon their homes once again, and this time for good.

The massacres staged by the Nationalist forces so soon after the genocide underscored the extreme vulnerability of the Armenians. Allied troops stationed in the Middle East did not attempt to save lives. Even if the Turkish Nationalist forces could not have been stopped militarily, the failure to intervene signified the abandonment of the Armenians by the rest of the world.

Silence and Denial

For the Allies, their failure to protect the Armenians had been a major embarrassment, one worth forgetting. For the Turks, their secure resumption of sovereignty over Anatolia precluded any responsibility toward the Armenians in the form of reparations. All the preconditions were created for the cover-up of the Armenian genocide. The readiness of people on the whole to believe the position of legitimate governments meant that the suggestion that a genocide had occurred in the far reached of Asia Minor would be made the object of historical revisionism and, soon enough, complete denial.

For almost fifty years, the Armenians virtually vanished from the consciousness of the world. Russian Armenia was Sovietized and made inaccessible. Diaspora Armenians were resigned to their fate. The silence of the world and the denials of the Turkish government only added to their ordeals.

The insecurities of life in diaspora further undermined the confidence of Armenians in their ability to hang on to some form of national existence. Constant dispersion, the threat of complete assimilation, and the humiliation of such total defeat and degradation contributed to their insecurities.

The abuse of their memory by denial was probably the most agonizing of their many tribulations. Memory, after all, was the last stronghold of the Armenian identity. The violation of this “sacred memory,” as all survivors of the genocidal devastation come to enshrine the experience of traumatic death, has reverberated through Armenian society.

The persecution and later the abandonment of the Armenians left deep psychological scars among the survivors and their families. Sixty years after the genocide, a rage still simmered in the Armenian communities. Unexpectedly it exploded in a wave of terrorism. Clandestine Armenian groups, formed in the mid-1970s, sustained a campaign of political assassinations for a period of about ten years. They were responsible for killing at least two dozen Turkish diplomats.

Citing the Armenian genocide and Turkey’s refusal to admit guilt as their justification, the terrorists were momentarily successful in obtaining publicity for their cause. They were unsuccessful in gaining broad-based support among Armenians or in wrenching any sort of admission from Turkey. Rather, the government of Turkey only increased the vehemence of it denial policy and embarked on a long-range plan to print and distribute a stream of publications questioning or disputing the occurrence of a genocide and distorting much of Armenian history.

Seeking International Understanding for the Armenian Cause

During these years of great turmoil other Armenians sought a more reasonable course for obtaining international understanding of their cause for remembrance. In the United States, commemorative resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate as recently as February 1990. These resolutions hoped to obtain formal U.S. acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide. But, the intervening decades had seen a close alliance develop between the United States and Turkey. The State Department opposed passage of these resolutions. The Turkish government imposed sanctions on U.S. businesses and military installations in Turkey. In the final analysis the resolutions failed to muster the votes necessary for adoption.

Terrence Des Pres observed: “When modern states make way for geopolitical power plays, they are not above removing everything — nations, cultures, homelands — in their path. Great powers regularly demolish other peoples’ claims to dignity and place, and sometimes, as we know, the outcome is genocide” (Des Pres 1986, 10-11). These words are important in establishing the context in which peoples, Armenians and others, seek congressional resolutions, and perform other commemorative acts. It is part of the continuing struggle to reclaim dignity. The reluctance of governments to recognize past crimes points to the basic lack of motivation in the international community to confront the consequences of genocide.


It is helpful to distinguish between the attitudes and policies of the Ottoman imperial government, the Young Turks, and the Nationalist movement. The Ottoman government, based on the principle of sectarian inequality, tapped into the forces of class antagonism and promoted the superiority of the dominant group over a disaffected minority. It made rudimentary use of technology in the implementation of its more lethal policies.

The Young Turks, based on proto-totalitarianism and chauvinism, justified their policies on ideological grounds. They marshaled the organizational and technological resources of the state to inflict death and trauma with sudden impact. When the Young Turks deported the Armenians from Anatolia and Armenia to Syria, the result was more than simply transferring part of the population from one area of the Ottoman Empire to another. The policy of exclusion placed Armenians outside the protection of the law. Yet, strangely, because they were still technically in the Ottoman Empire, there was the possibility of repatriation for the survivors given a change in government.

The Nationalists tapped the popular forces of Turkish society to fill the vacuum of power after World War I. Their policy vis-a-vis the Armenians was formulated on the basis of racial exclusivity. They made the decision that even the remaining Armenians were undesirable. Many unsuspecting Armenians returned home at the conclusion of the war in 1918. They had nowhere else to go. With the expulsion from Nationalist Turkey, an impenetrable political boundary finally descended between the Armenians and their former homes. The possibility of return was canceled.

Genocide contains the portents of the kind of destruction that can erase past and present. For the Armenian population of the former Ottoman Empire, it meant the loss of homeland and heritage, and a dispersion to the four corners of the earth. It also meant bearing the stigma of the statelessness.

At a time when global issues dominate the political agenda of most nations, the Armenian genocide underlines the grave risks of overlooking the problems of small peoples. We cannot ignore the cumulative effect of allowing state after state to resort to the brutal resolution of disagreements with their ethnic minorities. That the world chose to forget the Armenian genocide is also evidence of a serious defect in the system of nation-states which needs to be rectified. In this respect, the continued effort to cover up the Armenian genocide may hold the most important lesson of all. With the passage of time, memory fades. Because of a campaign of denial, distortion, and cover-up, the seeds of doubt are planted, and the meaning of the past is questioned and its lessons for the present are lost.

Ethiopia has been blessed by becoming the home to many individuals of Armenian origin for hundred of years. Herewith, in the name of all Ethiopians, I would like to show my solidarity with Ethio-Armenians, and pay tribute to the memory of the victims of Genocide.

May God bless and keep you always!

Further reading…


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R.I.P Dear Tilahun

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 21, 2009


Ethiopia’s legendary singer Tilahun Gessesse dies

Jimma Times

tilahunThe renowned and veteran Ethiopian singer Tilahun Gessesse died at the age of 68 on Sunday night in Addis Ababa.

Tilahun, who has been getting threatment for diabetes in the United States, returned home to Ethiopia to join his friends and family for the Easter holiday. It was reported that Tilahun was complaining about pain in his heart on Sunday night and he passed away as he was being taken to a hospital.

The national television and several FM radio stations in Ethiopia began playing his songs in tribute and fans called to express their sorrow as well as honor the legendary vocalist. According to his family, Tilahun always wished his death would be on Ethiopian soil.

Tilahun, who sang songs both in Amharic and Afaan Oromo, was born on September 29, 1940 to Gete Gurmu and Gessesse Negusse. His music interest began while he attended Ras Gobena Elementary School in Waliso town, the base of Ethiopian Patriot Gurassu Duke during Italian occupation, and Tilahun was later hired by Hager Fikir Theater to start his career.

He produced several of his hit songs during the days of Emperor Haile Selassie I, as the lead singer in his imperial bodyguard band.

Tilahun sold millions of albums singing about love, family, unity and country. He has been a dominant figure in Ethiopian music and will receive a state funeral later this week. Tilahun was given a Honorary Doctorate Degree from Addis Ababa University for his contribution to music during his five decades of career and he received an award for lifetime achievement from the Ethiopian Fine Art and Mass Media Prize Trust.

Ethiopia will miss you!


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UNESCO Exhibition On Reconstruction of Aksum Obelisk

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 21, 2009


UNESCO, Monday, April 20, 2009


An exhibition – photographs and a video installation – at UNESCO will celebrate the reinstallation of the Aksum obelisk. The show will give visitors a chance to learn about the history of the Ethiopian site and to view the key stages of reinstalling the monument, 24 metres high and weighing 150 tons.

Open to the public from 4 to 15 May (9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.), the exhibition will be inaugurated on 23 April by Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, in the presence of the Ethiopian and Italian ambassadors to UNESCO, Adelech Haile Mikael and Giuseppe Moscato.

The artists in the show, who are from Ethiopia, Belgium, France and Italy, were invited by UNESCO to visit Aksum and to express their vision of the restoration of the obelisk, a symbol of Ethiopian culture.

Their works highlight the uniqueness and magnitude of the project. The monument’s history has been eventful: erected in the 4th century then vandalized in the 7th, the obelisk was hauled off to Rome at Mussolini’s orders and set up near the Circus Maximus, finally returning to Aksum in 2005.

The artists – Tito Dupret, Theo Eshetu, Hiwot Gebre Geziabeher, Michael Tsegaye and Paola Viesi – give their personal interpretations of these events. The gigantic, 15-screen video installation by Theo Eshetu benefits from the dual perspective of the artist, born in Ethiopia and living in Rome. Hiwot Gebre Geziabeher, a schoolgirl from Aksum who learned photography from Michael Tsegaye, takes the local inhabitants’ point of view. Included in the show are films and photos depicting the extraordinary reinstallation work and Aksum’s lifestyle and culture. For an even better sense of the project’s scope, a 360°* projection offers visitors a simulated tour of the Aksum archaeological site and works.

With this exhibition, UNESCO is celebrating the successful reinstallation and showing how a cultural project can help bring about reconciliation between two countries with conflict in their past.

This project and this exhibition were made possible thanks to the generous contribution of the Italian Government.

From 4 to 15 May, individuals and school groups may reserve guided visits organized by UNESCO, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

Go to the complete World Heritage list…


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An Epic Of Ethiopia, Full Of Medical Lore

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 14, 2009, March 10, 2009

A nun gives birth to conjoined twins in a mission hospital in Addis cutting200Ababa, Ethiopia. The mother dies in childbirth and the father, a British surgeon named Thomas Stone, disappears. It is this birth that sets in motion the action of Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese‘s first novel.

The twin boys, Marion and Shiva, are physically separated shortly after their birth, but they remain unusually close throughout their childhood. Raised by doctors, they grow up in the hospital of their birth. As adults, Marion and Shiva both become doctors.

That hospitals and doctors play such a large role in this work of fiction is not surprising. Abraham Verghese was a physician before he became a writer. His first book, My Own Country, is a memoir based on the time he spent working with AIDS patients in rural Tennessee. It was then that he began to understand the importance of bedside skills and human interaction with patients.

Examining the patient at the bedside, Verghese says, is an important ritual in which patients bare not just their bodies, but their souls. He tries to impart those kinds of lessons to his students at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he is currently a professor, a position that also gives him the freedom to continue writing.

Verghese studied writing at the Iowa Writers Workshop, where he went in 1990 after his stay in Tennessee. He wanted to write a novel, but his experiences with AIDS patients were so compelling that he was asked to write the nonfiction book that became My Own Country. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was made into a Showtime movie.

The author’s second book, The Tennis Partner, was another memoir, a story of a complicated friendship. But then Verghese decided he had to pursue his dream of writing a novel. Cutting for Stone, a big, sprawling story that takes readers from India to Africa to America as the twins are separated by jealousies and political turmoil and finally reunited, is the long-postponed fulfillment of that dream.

Continue reading an excerpt…

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The Christian Way

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 10, 2009

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth


God made the earth as well as the sun, moon and stars. He created plants, animals, man and woman. He saw that his work was good and he rested after the heavens and the earth were finished.


Man disobeyed God


The first man and woman God made were named Adam and Eve. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden and God commanded him that he could eat of any tree in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was told that he would die if he ate from that tree. Eve was deceived into thinking that they wouldn’t die, so she ate some fruit from that tree and gave some to Adam. After disobeying God by eating the fruit, they hid themselves in the garden from God’s presence. That is when man first sinned (disobeyed the known will of God). Since then, sin has remained in the world, all people have sinned, and death remains the punishment for sin.


The earth was flooded to destroy the wicked


Men and women had reproduced and populated the earth. The wickedness of man was great, the earth had become filled with violence, and God was grieved. However, one man named Noah found grace in the eyes of God. God destroyed the wicked by flooding the earth with water. During the flood, he saved Noah and his family by protecting them in a large boat along with animals of every kind. After the flood waters had receded, God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”


Abraham is faithful to God


God later appeared to a man named Abram and told him to leave where he was, and to go into another land that God would show him. Abram had faith in God, obeyed him, and this pleased God. God later changed Abram’s name to Abraham (which means father of many nations). God told Abraham that in his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed, because he obeyed God’s voice. Abraham gave birth to Isaac, Isaac gave birth to Jacob, and Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. Israel’s twelve sons were the fathers of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel.


Moses received the law


The Israelites eventually were enslaved by the Egyptians and God used a man named Moses to deliver them from their slavery. After leaving Egypt, the Israelites wandered through the wilderness on their way to a land flowing with milk and honey, which God wanted them to live in. While they were in the wilderness, God gave Moses the law, which Moses taught the Israelites to obey. This law provided the infrastructure for their society, for generations to come, and still impacts us today.


Offerings and forgiveness


The Israelites did not always obey the law which God had given them. Fortunately, God provided them with a way to be forgiven. If a person sinned, they could bring an animal to a priest and offer it to God. Its blood was then shed for the forgiveness of sin.


Prophets were sent to turn people away from their wickedness


God sent prophets to correct people who were acting wickedly. The prophets would often instruct people to turn away from their wickedness and foretell of punishments for sin which would come upon the people. Prophets were often persecuted.


God sent Jesus Christ to the earth


God the Father sent Jesus Christ (the Son of God) into the world so that the world might be saved through Jesus. Jesus is the Word, which was with God in the beginning, and was God. The Word was made flesh. How was the Word made flesh? God caused an Israelite virgin named Mary to become pregnant miraculously. Mary was the mother of this child, but there was no earthly father who had caused her to become pregnant. This child was named Jesus. He was the Son of God, who had now become fully human as well. Many years before Jesus appeared on the earth, there had been prophecies which foretold of him. While on the earth, he fulfilled all the prophecies concerning him.


Jesus performed miracles


By the power of God, Jesus performed many miracles. Some of these miracles included healing all kinds of diseases, bringing dead people back to life, casting out demons, controlling the weather, walking on water, and turning water into wine.


Jesus taught us to love God and to love one another


Jesus showed people that God loved them. He taught them to love God and to love one another. He is the king of the kingdom of God and his kingdom is not of this world. He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God to people. Those who believe in Jesus and do the will of God will enter his kingdom. He taught people to lay up their treasures in heaven, not on earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal.


Jesus died for the sins of the world


Jesus did not do anything wrong to deserve punishment (he lived a perfect life), but people who did not like him had Jesus killed. He was scourged, mocked, and hung on a cross until he died. Then, he was placed in a tomb. Just like animals were offered and their blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin, Jesus was offered and his blood was shed. His perfect sacrifice was better than an animal sacrifice and by the shedding of his blood came the forgiveness of sins for all people once and forever.


Jesus was raised from the dead


Jesus did not deserve to die, so God raised him from the dead. After he arose from the dead, he was seen by many people on the earth. He told his followers to go into all of the world and preach the gospel. Then, he ascended up to heaven. Not only did God raise him from death, but God will also save all people who believe in Jesus and do his will.


The Holy Spirit was sent to comfort the believers


After Jesus ascended up into heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to comfort his believers who were on the earth. When the followers of Jesus became filled with the Holy Spirit, they received power. As the followers of Jesus told other people about Jesus, many of them believed, became saved and were filled with the Holy Spirit. Christianity spread and the Church grew larger as more people became saved.


Church growth


The Church is the body of Christ and it is made up of people who believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of his Church. To save others, believers tell people the gospel of the kingdom of God. The gospel message is that Jesus died for our sins, God raised him from the dead and those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life. Then, when people believe the gospel message, Christians baptize them (submerse them in water for an instant) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The new believers receive the Holy Spirit and they turn away from sinful behavior and instead choose to love people, even their enemies.


More about the Church


The Church has been persecuted and many Christians have been killed for their belief in Jesus. The early Church was heavily persecuted, yet it continued to grow despite being persecuted. Not only did the Church have to deal with persecution, they also had to deal with false teachings. Some people used Christianity as a tool for personal gain in this world. Some so called “Christians” even persecuted and killed people who did not believe in Jesus. They corrupted the truth of the gospel to lay up treasures on this earth rather than in heaven.

It is important to realize that just because someone is called a Christian, does not mean they will enter the kingdom of God and have eternal life. Those who do the will of the Father which is in heaven will enter the kingdom. Jesus said to love your enemies and to do good to them that hate you. He said to pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Today, there are still those who do the will of God, and those who do not do the will of God. The Church continues to be persecuted and Christians continue to be killed for their belief in Jesus. Some continue to lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, some lay up treasures on this earth, which will eventually be destroyed.


The future return of Jesus


Someday in the future, Jesus will come in the clouds with great power and glory to gather his believers. Those who have already died in Christ will rise first. Then, the believers who are alive on the earth at the time of his coming will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.


The coming judgment


The dead will stand before God and will be judged according to their works. The wicked will be thrown into a lake of fire where they will suffer forever. Those who are saved will live forever and they will not participate in this second death.


Eternal life


For those who know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent, there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying and no more pain. God will be with his people and he will wipe away all tears from their eyes. The former things will pass away and all things will be made new. This will continue forever.


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It’s Not Easy Being An Ethiopian Jew

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 7, 2009

It’s not easy being an Ethiopian Jew in America’ writes Haaretz. Well, in fact, it’s not easy being an Ethiopian anywhere else – inlculding in Ethiopia. .. and „I personally prefer to be stabbed in the back by a gentile, and not my own brother Jew“, says the Ethiopian Jew. It must be very painful, it’s painful!


Well, it’s is to say, but, at times, it probably could be a blessing to face hardship, as it’s mostly a byproduct of porsperity.

Besides, every hardship could be about another chance for cultivating our hearts. The path of the heart is the most righteous path to the ultimate prosperity.

Farmers know the pain of cultivating wheat or teff, they know the suffering in cultivation, where, at the same time, the challenge in the feild is often taken as joy, because when the bitterness goes away, sweetness will come and true happiness will arrive.

When Avishai Mekonen, 35, the Israeli photographer who has lived for the past seven years in New York City, lectured before American high-school students in Savannah, GA, one of them asked him to roll up his sleeve.

“Where is the number?” he asked. Mekonen didn’t get it at first.

“I thought Jews are Holocausts survivors, aren’t you a Holocaust survivor?” explained the teenager. With experiences of this kind, admits Avishai, it’s not always easy to be the Ethiopian Jew in America. As if it was anywhere else.

In his new exhibition, “Seven Generations”, he wishes to return to his community the pride of its authentic tradition. Then irony in his quest for the shards of the traditional identity is that his work is being displayed in New York, and not in Israel.

It is customary for Ethiopians, before getting married, to have the community elders account for seven generations of each family, in order to ensure that no accidental cases of incest can occur. This tradition also became one of the foundations of the elders’ authority. One who is able to count seven generations back would receive the respect of the community. Those who can count 14 generations are perceived as geniuses.

“Once an Israeli cab driver who took me to an Ethiopian funeral, cursed and said: ‘Those Ethiopians! Only one died, yet hundreds are coming!'” recalls Mekonen. “But in our tradition, you must invite all your extended relatives, 7 generations back, both to the weddings and to funerals. It’s like one big family.”

Some of the youngsters he interviewed for the film accompanying the exhibition have no idea what all of this means, or they don’t really care. Mekonen himself, who married Shari, a Jewish American filmmaker, didn’t really need the elders’ services to count generations of his bride’s family. His parents, who flew all the way from Israel to the U.S. for the wedding, were quite shocked to see the small number of guests. “This is the whole family?” his mother asked, a bit disappointed.

We eat hummus in a small Manhattan restaurant as Mekonen tells me that many years ago he had this idea to make a documentary about the painful generation gap of the Ethiopian community, but dawdled, and his move to the U.S. to join his wife further complicated the matter.

“But one day it struck me, that I met a young Ethiopian in Israel who is able to count generations. This tradition will just disappear, and nothing will be left of it.”

He says that Israeli bureaucrats unknowingly contributed to the destruction of the custom: when Mekonen made Aliya to Israel in 1984, instead of taking on his father’s name as his family name, according to tradition, he was instead registered under his great-grandfather’s name, along with the rest of his family. Born Agegnehu (“gift” in Amharic), he became Avraham upon his arrival. Later, he changed his name to Avishai, to return some semblance of his original name.

“But I’m still Mekonen, and the elders get confused when they try to count generations – it doesn’t seem logical to them, this jump from my great-grandfather to me. Mekonen is supposed to belong to other generation.”

The entire family in Israel was recruited to work on a project. His father made phone calls to community elders, arranging meetings; his mother baked injera, the traditional bread, to honor the hosts; the younger brother was appointed to contact Israeli-Ethiopian hip-hop bands and rebellious teenage girls with tattoos.

“The parents’ generation understood the importance of this project, dressed nicely and fully cooperated. The youngsters neglected it until I talked to them, when they admitted that because of their detachment from tradition they have had serious identity problems. They said they feel “empty and humiliated” when some policeman tells them: “You are Ethiopian, you understand nothing.”

The tears within the Ethiopian community seem so distant from the noisy lobby at the Jewish Community Center building in Manhattan, where his exhibition is presented. In the afternoon, African-American nannies bring children for activities at the Center. 30-year old Jolly is taking care of two active Jewish toddlers, and she seems quite surprised when she sees the pictures: “I never thought there were black Jews!”

Some of the Ethiopians sought comfort in Harlem, so they wouldn’t be forced to deal with the perceptions that “Jews are white”. But Mekonen says “it’s complicated”. In his documentary-in-progress, “400 Miles to freedom”, he explores his personal story and identity, and through this exploration he meets a variety of diverse Jews both in Israel and in America, including Rabbi Capers Funnye, a leader of the African American Jewish community and second cousin of First Lady Michelle Obama, who shares his own historical roots and path to Judaism. He says that although the Ethiopians, unlike the African-Americans, haven’t been enslaved and detached from their history, he feels that the conversations with the community present a strong opportunity to learn about the history of slavery in the U.S.

“There are obvious advantages to being part of a big and influential community,” he admits. “The first time I saw a giant poster featuring a black model, I was stunned and excited that here people actually think that black sells. I wanted it to happen in Israel too. Then in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina where the blacks were neglected, I said, ‘thank God I’m Israeli.’ But when Obama won the election and all our neighbors ran down the street yelling and dancing and singing – I shouted something in Hebrew as well, something like: ‘The good guys won!’ It was perhaps the first time that I felt I belong to this fest, and I said I’m so grateful to be here to witness this historical moment.”

Like almost every Israeli living in New York and hoping “to return one day”, Mekonen dreams of going back to Israel and buying a house in Rosh Pina. He recalls with nostalgia his service in the Israel Defense Force’s combat engineering unit, the day he was wounded in Hebron by a Molotov cocktail and his days in Lebanon.

“I was a Zionist,” he says. “After I finished my studies I made some documentaries, and one of the films was screened on Channel 1. Even so, I hated headlines like ‘The first Ethiopian filmmaker’ – it made me feel as though they don’t expect anything more from me – you’ve already done your duty, you’re free to go. But I felt that my career had just begun.”

“And then I suddenly found myself organizing the shelves of an N.Y. supermarket, and I didn’t even have a name – I was a ‘garbage boy’. I didn’t come ‘to conquer America’. Frankly, I was horrified of the thought of a second immigration, after we walked by foot from Ethiopia to Sudan. I had all kinds of weird phobias, like that being a black Jew might even get me killed over here. Every day I cursed the American food – it seemed so tasteless. For two months, I ate only hot dogs – it was the only thing I could name in English. When I was working at the moving company, like so many other Israelis, one sofa slipped out of my hands and rolled down the stairs, so I had to quit. I thought I would have to give up art. I would bring my CV to production companies, but who has heard of Tel-Hai college? Who knows what Channel 1 is here? They were a bit curious about the black guy coming from Israel, but they always finished with: ‘We’ll call you back,’ and you know exactly what that means. The only thing that kept me strong was that I put a small table in the corner, and started writing scripts?”

Eventually, Mekonen started to exhibit his works, got some grants for his projects and was able to go back to filmmaking. But he still feels like a guest in America.

“At the Jewish community I sometimes hear: ‘Did you come with Operation Moshe? I donated to it!’ The thing is my mother lives it every day. Each morning she says: ‘Thank God, thanks to America’. But I start telling people, that we were not only sitting there and waiting for someone to rescue us. We walked for months, and thousands died on the way. But they don’t get it, and some even become angry because it doesn’t fit their stereotypes of the naïve Africans that are supposed to be grateful until their last day. It’s pretty difficult for me to see sometimes the fundraising campaigns for the Ethiopian community in Israel, they look so miserable. I want people to see my culture as a rich and happy one. But then probably no one would donate money, and it really helps many people.”

In Israel he misses many things that the native Israelis would rather escape.

“I adore those moments, when you come off the plane and the cab driver starts to haggle over each shekel, things like that,” he laughs. “And of course, I ask myself where I would be today if I had stayed there.”

He doubts that his 4-year-old son Ariel will speak Amharic. “But I want him at least to know Hebrew.” At this moment, he would be glad if his exhibition will finally reach Israel. “I want the elders to see it. They deserve it.”

Slightly more than a thousand Ethiopian Jews have settled in North America since the beginning of the 1990s, and about 500 live in New York City. The Israeli Consulate, which used to ignore the trend, nowadays prefers to keep in touch with the Israelis living in the city.

The new New Yorkers themselves hate when one defines it as a “phenomenon”. They are fed up with questions about the racism in Israel and America, and they reject any question that smells of arrogance and an effort to distinguish them from any other young Israelis who head to seek themselves “in the big world.”

Bizu Rikki Mulu, one of the Ethiopian-Israeli-American community veterans, established the organization aimed to facilitate the transfer for the newcomers. She called it Chassida Shmella (“Shmella” means stork in Amharic, she took it from the song people in her village would sing while seeing the migrating birds: “Stork, stork, how is our Holy Land?”). She thinks that the stream of the newcomers will increase now that Obama is president.

“You have here in N.Y.C. maybe one hundred thousand Yemenite Jews, maybe half a million Russian Jews, and now we have the Ethiopian Jews,” she says. “It’s a normal thing. It is better to keep them attached to the community, instead of saying: ‘We’ve spent so much money to bring them to Israel, they should go back there. If someone succeeds, it’s a success for all of us.'”

Mulu, native of a small village in Gondar, came to Israel in 1978 with a group of 150 Jews as part of Operation Begin. She arrived in New York for the first time in 1991, and although she managed to get a green card, she warns that for most young Ethiopians the absorption is not so simple.

“It looks easy from Israel, but then they come here and work illegally in all kinds of odd jobs, and no one really cares about them,” she says. “A few fared better, some have their own businesses, and one woman works at the local hospital because her profession facilitates the immigration process. And there are plenty of guys who didn’t really succeed, but they don’t want to go back home with empty hands. I think it’s quite healthy to be able to say: ‘I failed and I’m going to try to make it at home.’ Not everyone is like Obama. In many places in America still, the blacks are here and the whites are there. Only in the 60s, segregation was abolished formally. The young Ethiopians coming here don’t think about these things.”

Chassida Shmella organizes cultural and educational events, but most of the newcomers ask for material assistance. “They ask directly: ‘What can you do for me?’ At first, they are less interested in preserving their religious and cultural identity. But most of them come from religious families, and here there are no parents to prepare the Shabbat meal. They are trying to find their place. At first, people at synagogue might stare at them, but eventually they get used to it, and the rabbi is excited. Only upon coming here I discovered how much the American Jews did for the Ethiopian Jews. But there are also a lot of prejudices and stereotypes. Many still want to see us as the guys dressed in white coming off the plane, because that’s how they remember this Aliyah.”

“The Ethiopian Jews sobered later,” declares one fresh arrival. “In Israel, dog eats dog. Here you have plenty of problems as well, but I personally prefer to be stabbed in the back by a gentile, and not my own brother Jew. Here the Ethiopians tend to succeed more, because people don’t look at your origin and family name, they look at what you have to offer them. With God’s help, we’ll get back to Israel empowered, economically and mentally, to Jerusalem and not to the state-sponsored trailers.”

This might interest you

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