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Friday, October 17, 2003

Israel's "Black Hebrews" given permanent residency status

Now eligible for citizenship

"Black Hebrews" dance in Dimona, Israel, celebrating their new permanent residency status (photo: Haaretz).

I don't know how I missed this story back in July. This report from KYW-TV in Philadelphia:
Israel's "Black Hebrews," a close-knit group of vegan polygamists who arrived in the country from the United States in 1969, are celebrating the government's announcement that they are finally eligible for citizenship in the Jewish state.

In the desert town of Dimona in southern Israel, home to about 1,500 Black Hebrews, there was a feeling Monday that a 34-year history of statelessness was coming to an end with news of their permanent resident status.

"There's going to be a lot of dancing, singing, shouting and eating," said former Chicagoan Adiv Ben-Yehuda. "It's the greatest day since the community arrived in Israel."

Other members of the 2,500-strong group live in Arad and Mitzpeh Ramon, other towns in Israel's south.

As permanent residents, members will be able to serve in the Israeli army and establish their own residential communities, an Interior Ministry statement said. Ministry spokeswoman Tova Ellinson said that under normal practice, permanent resident status would lead to full citizenship after an unspecified period of time.

"We're ready to take on responsibilities and obligations as permanent members of the community," said Ben-Yehuda, 50, a former college basketball player with two wives and 12 children. His American drawl is undimmed after 30 years in Israel.

The exodus from Chicago of the Black Hebrews -- the self-styled African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem -- is one of the stranger odysseys of the 1960s. To read the rest, click on the link above.
Zionism is Racism.