Is Israel Better Off For The Presence Of 120,000 Ethiopians?

Why do civilizations decline? Psychologist J. Philippe Rushton described one 19th Century theory:

The character of a civilization was determined by the traits of the dominant race, often created by the union of several related tribes. If wealth grows, cities develop, and an international society forms. Among the new arrivals are persons belonging to ethnic taxa that have never initiated a civilization. Degeneration sets in and the intrinsic worth the people originally possessed becomes lost, for the population no longer has in its veins the same quality blood with which it began. (Race, Evolution and Behavior, pg. 274)

I started paying attention to the wonderful story of Ethiopian Jewry in 2004 when I began reading the Failed Messiah website. In 1984, Shmarya Rosenberg had written to the Lubavitcher rebbe to complain that Chabad wasn’t doing enough for Ethiopian Jews. Rosenberg did not get his hands on the rebbe’s reply until 2004. It disgusted him because it seemed to him that the rebbe did not show sufficient concern for Ethiopian Jews and so Rosenberg quit Chabad, quit observing Orthodox Judaism, and set up his website with the latest news, usually bad, about traditional Judaism.

So I read Rosenberg’s protests and I read a book about Ethiopian Jews and I saw some videos about the ingathering of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. I might have even shed a tear or two at the beauty of it. And then I forgot about Ethiopian Jews.

In 2013, I started reading about IQ again (in 1998, I read the book, The Bell Curve) and I came across information that Ethiopian Jews averaged IQs under 70. “That can’t be right,” I thought to myself. “Jews are very smart people and all the right people say that these Ethiopians are Jews. I’m sure they’ll assimilate into Israel just like the rest of the country’s immigrants.”

Then I started noticing that as Israel got richer, all sorts of people around the world started discovering they were Jewish and demanding the right of return.

I did a little research and found out that the Ethiopians are not assimilating into Israel, just as most African-Americans haven’t assimilated into America after four centuries.

So I didn’t like these thoughts I was having because they get you run out of polite society and they made me feel uncomfortable, so I cast around for other explanations, and found this one by Dr. Girma Bermahu, who writes a review of Richard Lynn’s book entitled, “Black Intellectual Genocide: An Essay Review of IQ and the Wealth of Nations”:

First, I am principally concerned with the way the authors interpreted the data about Ethiopian immigrants’ “IQ values” from Israel and how Ethiopia, my homeland, was described as one of the “dumbest” countries with the lowest IQ, in fact second from last. That figure – average IQ 63 – which was attached to Ethiopia as
average national intelligence in their book (see p.75, p. 137, p. 204) had an extremely negative effect on me and at the same time saddened me about what that message conveys to the bright, struggling, and hard working young boys and girls of ancient Ethiopia whose contribution to world civilisation as the cradle of human civilization/species and its astounding histories were
undeniably documented. (Note that this same IQ datum (63) has been (as a third-hand information) used in a most Tatu Vanhanen
recent article in the November issue of the British Journal
of Health Psychology by Satoshi Kanazawa (2006) where the author confidently stated that low IQ levels (rather than inequality, poverty, and disease) are the reason for African nations chronic ill-health, high infant mortality rate, and low life expectancy. Kanazawa claims that he has reached this conclusion by comparing
national IQ scores with indicators of ill health in 126 countries)…

The IQ figure which stood in the authors’ book to represent Ethiopia came from Israel not directly from Ethiopia. I have met some of those who tested the young people (newly arriving immigrants from Ethiopia) and I have probably met half of these
immigrants. It is very possible that a few of them are my acquaintances. That was made possible because I collected data for my PhD dissertation from Israel; my research concerns Ethiopian Jews’ school achievement and integration process in Israel (Berhanu, 2001). The IQ score which Lynn and Vanhanen assigned to Ethiopia was simply picked from Kaniel & Fisherman’s article that appeared in The International Journal of Psychology (1991, 26, pp. 25-33). Lynn & Vanhanen (2002:204) wrote:

“Around 1989, data for a sample of 250 15-year-old Ethiopian
immigrants to Israel tested with the Standard Progressive Matrices
have been reported by Kaniel and Fisherman (1991). In relation to
the 1979 British standardization sample, their mean IQ was 65.
Because of the 10-year interval between the two collections of data, this needs to be reduced to 63.”

Here one could question the validity of the writers’ knowledge of these 250 Ethiopian immigrants. These 15-year-olds came from a region called Gonder. They lived most of their lives in the countryside with rudimentary knowledge of “school-related tasks”
that so-called modern industrialised societies highly value. They were airlifted by Israeli security agents in extremely dramatic circumstances, and their arrival in Israel was abrupt. Many lost their near relatives in this dramatic episode; and many more
were unattended, solitary children. Family disintegration, psychological trauma, confusion, dislocation, and cultural shock were rampant at the moment when the test was administered. Most of these students who are described as having low IQs are presently enjoying a satisfying life and are occupationally competent and socially adequate; they are now in their late 20s or early 30s.
The story of how the Ethiopian Jews – known as Falasha, meaning “gone to exile”–survived for so many centuries in exile clinging to their Jewish tradition and how, finally, they came to Israel is fascinating. As to their history and origin, there are contradictory statements and theories, and it has been an intensely debatable issue, especially in Israel among different religious Jewish authorities, pertaining, for instance, to their rights to Israeli citizenship and the authenticity of their Jewishness.
It was not until 1973 that they were officially accepted as having the right to “return” to Israel and become Israeli citizens. It is important to recognise that while in Ethiopia the Ethiopian Jews lived most of their lives in isolation both in time and space. They
have a singular, defined traditional way of raising and educating children. Therefore, the abrupt transition (Aliya) from village life in Ethiopia to Israel, which occurred en masse within the past two decades, has been accompanied by adjustment crises which
in turn greatly affected their learning and integration into Israeli society (see Berhanu, 2001). From the very start, the absorption of Ethiopian Jews was, to say the least, bumpy…

In the original study Kaniel and Fisherman suggested that the low performance of the Ethiopian immigrants reflects cognitive delay rather than cognitive difference. They stated that there are two approaches to characterizing the “lower performance” on intelligence tests of minorities and immigrants: The first is that ethnic differences and genetic make-up are sources of variations in the time of cognitive development.

Regarding this approach, the authors referred to, among others, Arthur Jensen. The other approach is, as they stated, minorities’ low performance in cognitive tests, due to differences in culturally induced psychological, cognitive, and behavioral
strategies. Although the way they described the social, cultural and historical circumstances of these newly arrived, most of them “illiterate” immigrants from Ethiopia logically would allow them to adopt the second approach, they preferred to hypothesize (as in other distorted studies, interested in ‘highlighting’ the black-white gap in intelligence) that low performance of the Ethiopian immigrants is caused by cognitive delay rather than cultural difference. They were out to confirm this and it was very easy to do so.

Yes! That must be it. I am so mad at Richard Lynn for writing books that hurt people’s feelings, and damage their self-esteem, leading to lowered educational performance and a life of crime.

I wish we had PC police who could arrest people like Richard Lynn, Arthur Jensen and Charles Murray for crime think.

The problems of Ethiopians in Israel, and Ethiopians in Ethiopia, and Africans in Africa, and African-Americans in America and aboriginees in Australia and African descendants in the Caribbean are all the fault of white racism. All black problems are the fault of the evil white man.

Once I arrived at this thought, I immediately relaxed.

According to Wikipedia: “Despite progress, Ethiopian Jews have so far largely failed to assimilate into Israeli-Jewish society. They remain, on average, on a lower economic and educational level than average Israelis. Also, while marriages between Jews of different backgrounds are very common in Israel, marriages between Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians are not very common. According to a 2009 study, 90% of Ethiopian-Israelis – 93% of men and 85% of women, are married to other Ethiopian-Israelis. A survey found that found 57% of Israelis consider a daughter marrying an Ethiopian unacceptable and 39% consider a son marrying an Ethiopian to be unacceptable. Barriers to intermarriage have been attributed to sentiments in both the Ethiopian community and Israeli society generally.[124] A 2011 study showed that only 13% of high school students of Ethiopian origin felt “fully Israeli”.”

When I have daughters, I’m going to force them to marry Ethiopians! I am going to march off to shul, demand an aliyah, and then announce to the whole congregation, “Baruch HaShem! My daughter’s marrying a schvartze!”

I am now sure that before Barack Obama leaves office, African-Americans and Ethiopian Jews will assimilate into their host countries and produce educational and socio-economic results on par with their fellow citizens. And if they don’t, I know who to blame — evil white men!

From The Forward: “…Bene Israel of India nor Ethiopian Jews. Genetic tests show that both groups are converts, contradicting their founding myths.”

Steve Sailer wrote:

Between 1984 and 1991, Israel achieved a public-relations coup by importing tens of thousands of Ethiopians who claimed to be Jews. Over the last decade, however, Israel has been taking direct action to limit its black citizens’ fertility.

Originally, Israel had banned immigration by the various sub-Saharan African tribes that claim some kind of hazy Jewish heritage, arguing that they aren’t real Jews. (Recent DNA studies suggest that Ethiopian Jews are only tenuously related to other Jews. These communities probably had a limited number of Jewish ancestors, travelers who married into the much larger local populations.)

In the fevered post-1967 ideological climate, however, Zionism was denounced around the world as racism, as the latest manifestation of white colonialism. The Jewish state hit upon the PR masterstroke of embracing its Ethiopian aspirants.

This didn’t mollify the Arabs, but the symbolism pleased a more important audience: American Jews concerned about Israel appearing racist. Unsurprisingly, this living proof that you could be Israeli and black proved immensely popular with American Jews, who showered Israel’s small community of Ethiopians with $600 million in donations.

Also unsurprisingly, the Ethiopians have proved increasingly less popular with their Israeli neighbors, who have come to view them and their children as backward and crime-prone…

In Israel, Ethiopian women have said on camera that Israeli immigration officials told them that they wouldn’t be allowed into the country without taking Depo-Provera shots. They claim to have been subsequently browbeaten into staying on the contraceptive. One study found that Ethiopian women account for 57 percent of all Israel’s Depo-Provera prescriptions.

In December, an Israeli news show recorded an Israeli nurse telling an Ethiopian immigrant that the injections are given “primarily to Ethiopian women because they forget, they don’t understand, and it’s hard to explain to them, so it’s best that they receive a shot once every three months…basically they don’t understand anything.”

Anonymous writes: “The Ethiopian “Jews” are not Jews at all. That is a scam and everyone knows it. US liberal Jews forced them on Israel. The problems with them are not stopping. There are 5000 Ethiopians in the IDF, a very small percentage, but 11% of all persons in jail in the IDF are Ethiopian. Whether you think this is due to the army or the Ethiopians depends on whether you are a US or Israeli Jew. Israel has received millions of immigrants and some from very primitive countries, but none like this before.”

Here‘s an English translation of the rebbe’s 1984 letter:

By the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson
– as published in Kfar Chabad Magazine, Volume 1079, 5 Shevat 5764 (January 28, 2004) Page 35.

[The letter the Rebbe was responding to can be read here: Part 1; Part 2.]

Baruch HaShem
12 Shevat 5744 [Monday, January 16, 1984]
Brooklyn, NY

Mr. Shmarya Rosenberg1
S. Paul, MN 55116

Shalom u’Bracha! 2

Your special delivery registered letter with enclosures dated 7 Kislev [Sunday, November 13, 1983 — two months before the Rebbe wrote this letter] was received in it’s proper time. You are raising several questions beginning with a question that is related to a complicated problem of Jewish law (“Halakha”). As is well-known and widely publicized, it is outside the scope of my duties to render Jewish legal decisions (“paskin shailot”). I can only suggest that your question be addressed to a qualified rabbinical body, like Agudat HaRabbonim. 3

Aside from this, I am surprised by the wording of your letter because I do not remember receiving any letter from you in the past. 4

Your attitude appears presumptuous and unbecoming. You demand to know why Chabad-Lubavitch representatives (“shluchim”) are not doing anything or are not doing enough, related to this problem that you are very concerned with. Not only this, but your letter is tasteless and illogical, because your questions would be no more logical if you asked a physician why he is not actively involved in a matter related to engineering.

You should know that Chabad-Lubavitch representatives (“shluchim”) have a specific mission assigned to them, which is to spread Judaism in the communities designated to them. Congressional resolutions and the like are not part of those duties that are planned for them.5, 6

Furthermore, there is very little — if anything — they can achieve in the area that interests you most. Therefore, to divert their minds and to turn their energies and their time to something not related to their mission will be wasteful and diversionary to the work that they already do superbly and with full devotion.

Equally, your claims regarding scholarships and other projects you mention in your letter are not logical and they do not fit in with the activities and duties of Chabad-Lubavitch institutions of representatives (“shluchim”).7

The impression received from your letter is that you are probably not familiar with the correct way to achieve success for the cause you are so eager to work for.

In light of the above mentioned, and because you have begun your letter with B”H [an abbreviation for Baruch HaShem, Blessed is God], it is absolutely correct for me to ask you two questions related to this matter:

1. Remember the law (“din kadima”) that the needs of the poor of your own city come first. Did all the Jews in your city receive adequate necessities to cover their Jewish [i.e., spiritual] needs? If not, why not?

2. What have you done and what are you currently doing — are you doing all you can? — to convince and encourage the Jews in your community — men, women and children — to live their lives as truly devoted Jews, Jews devoted to the Torah and its laws, fulfilling the daily mitzvot and acting as Jews? If not, why not?

Of course, there are many differences between your questions and mine. In fact, an operation to benefit the Jews of your community (along with it having precedence in Jewish law, “din kadima”) can be carried out without the necessity of assistance from the American Congress and without the approval of any foreign government. Furthermore, such an operation would undoubtedly be successful — it depends only on you and your willingness and determination to carry out such an urgent action. 8 Surely there is no need to explain to you the conditions in America — including in your state and in your city — that so very many Jews — men, women and young children — are carried away on the stream of assimilation, influenced by foreign surroundings that leads to intermarriage, etc. So many of them are lost to our people day-after-day, and, according to our sages, even the soul of one Jew is regarded as an entire world, and certainly it is so with regard to the rescue of so many of our brothers [from assimilation].

I must say that the purpose of my letter to you is not to argue with you or even to give you mussar (“moral guidance”) because I do not know you. Your letter is one of very many letters I receive and your letter does not fit in with any of them. It occurs to me that perhaps it is providential (“hashgakha pratit”), and that this gives me the opportunity to bring to your attention the fact that the many Jews nearby you have important needs and that an effort must be made to reach and save them — they have the priority, the first claim on Jews like you.

May G-d give you the correct answers to answer my questions, not for my self-indulgence but for the sake of our brethren (“acheynu b’nai yisrael”), especially the younger generation in your city, assuming that you are a resident there for at least a few years or perhaps were born there.

With The Respect That Is Fitting (“B’Kavod HaRoy”),

P.S. I would like to respectfully ask you as an additional question related to this matter: In what way can it be helpful to this issue (that you are so angry about) for you to be well-informed on what I do or do not do to benefit it?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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