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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Jan. 31, 1996 V4, #18
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Drinking a Lot Reduces Danger of Large-Intestine Cancer.

Research at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv has established that drinking a lot of fluids reduces the danger of cancer of the large intestine. It was found that those people who drank more suffered less from symptoms of cancer of the large intestine.

Navon will Investigate Ethiopian Problems

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's prime minister has appointed a former president, Yitzhak Navon, to head a committee to investigate the problems of the country's Ethiopian immigrants. Ethiopian immigrants violently protested in Jerusalem Sunday after they learned that Israel's blood bank had been routinely disposing of blood donated by Ethiopian immigrants. The blood issue stems from a fear of the HIV virus but the Ethiopians say it is only the latest of many problems, insults, and discrimination against Israel's Ethiopian community.

Nearly everyone agreed the blood issue was a terrible insult. Israeli health officials say the incidence of AIDS among the country's Ethiopian immigrants is 50 times higher than the rest of the Israeli population. But other experts argue the incidence is still very low, and that the chances of getting AIDS-infected blood into the health care system could have been further reduced by screening and by the policy which has now been adopted -- freezing the blood until further tests are done.

Even after the angry Ethiopian immigrants threw smoke bombs into the parking lot outside the office of Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and smashed the windows of cars belonging to his staff members, he apologized to them. "We need to answer their expectations and needs. I think the people who were very much hurt and insulted. And the society must learn how to correct mistakes, and that's what we are trying to do."

But for many of the Ethiopian immigrants and their Israeli-born children, the apology and the new government commission are not enough. "We are not animals. We are human beings like everybody else," said Zina Abebe, an Ethiopian Jew who came to Israel 18 years ago. "We thought we are part of the Israelis and we're trying very hard to live in our country. But now, I have to tell you, there were lots of young people, students, young people from the army, they're really very, very hurt. And it just demoralized all the young people."

Abebe came to Israel in 1978, three years after the country's chief rabbi officially declared Ethiopians who claimed Jewish heritage to be Jews. The rabbi was responding to a controversy which had been brewing over an Ethiopian group known in their country as Falashas, or outsiders. They claimed to be the descendants of Jews, and some scholars supported them.

But others asked questions the Falashas found insulting. Were these black Africans really Jews? Or were they perhaps trying to get out of a poor, famine wracked, war torn country by seizing on a tenuous historic connection and taking advantage of Israel's policy of accepting all Jews as citizens?

The decision to accept them has particular irony for the current Israeli blood bank controversy, because the conclusion was that the Ethiopian jews indeed have Jewish blood.

Some experts say they are the descendants of (Melenik) the son born to the Queen of Sheba after her romance with King Solomon about 3,000 years ago. Others say today's Ethiopian Jews are the descendants of an Ethiopian community which underwent a religious conversion several centuries ago.

The Israeli government airlifted 22,000 Ethiopian Jews in two major efforts in the mid-1980s and in 1991. The government says a similar number arrived on their own in the last two decades. Today, the Ethiopian immigrants and their descendants number about 56,000 people, including 1,500 soldiers in the Israeli army.

Farrakhan's Controversial African Trip

By Gil Weinreich (VOA-Washington)

Black Muslim Minister Louis Farrakhan is visiting Africa on a tour that has included visits with Libyan ruler Muammar Gadhafi and South African President Nelson Mandela. Wherever Farrakhan goes controversy often follows.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan dubbed his Africa visit the World Friendship Tour. His friendship with Gadhafi appears strong. News reports indicate the Libyan leader has pledged a sum of $1 billion for Farrakhan to use to influence the outcome of US elections.

Libya's state-run news agency quoted Gadhafi as saying the two leaders agreed to fight America from the inside. Farrakhan said the money would be used to mobilize and unite American blacks, Muslims, and other minorities to leverage their voting power.

In Washington, White House spokesman Mike McCurry did not comment on Farrakhan's decision to accept Gadhafi's billion-dollar offer. But he said the Libyan leader could better spend his money.

In the past, the Nation of Islam leader has described Judaism as a gutter religion, and has called Asians, Arabs and Jews who own businesses in black communities "bloodsuckers."


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