Stu Bykofsky: Ethiopian Jew who became an Israeli politician meets with black leaders in Philly
STATE SEN. Anthony H. Williams was telling a story about his first visit to Israel, about 15 years ago.
While waiting to clear security at the airport, he noticed a group of black men waltzing through.
Taking them to be African tourists, he asked why they didn't have to wait in line.
"They're Israelis," he was told.
"That's impossible," he responded. "Jews don't look like that."
He prefaced the story with an admission that his information about Israel at that time was "limited" and "ignorant."
A nearly identical story was told by Shlomo Molla, the deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament (called the Knesset), who was born and reared in an isolated Jewish village in the mountains of Ethiopia.
Molla's reaction: "There are no white Jews."
Each was living in a silo of his own experience, which did not reflect the true picture, and each spoke Friday at a cultural-exchange luncheon at a Center City law firm hosted by Williams and City Council President Darrell Clarke, both African-American.
A number of African-American leaders attended and the purpose, Williams told me, was to "truth-tell" and help rekindle the historically close relationship between American Jews and blacks.
I interviewed Molla right before that lunch. It was two days after a fight over language in the Democratic national platform that eliminated - and then restored, with a less-than-convincing voice vote - language accepting Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
Also deleted was language in previous platforms calling for the Palestinian terror group Hamas to be isolated by the U.S. and the West until it renounced violence. That remained deleted, taking pressure off the terrorists sworn to eradicating Israel. "To say Hamas can be a partner for peace is naive," Molla said.
From 1948, when Jordan occupied half of Jerusalem during Israel's War of Independence, to 1967, when Israel liberated the city, Jewish holy places were desecrated or destroyed and Jews were barred. Since 1967, under Israeli control, the city has been opened to all faiths, including Islam.Click here to read the article