Friday, January 20, 2012

Ethiopian Jewry and cyber warfare

There have been demonstrations of Ethiopian Jews in Israel against racism. This started in the south at Kiryat Malachi where a building refused to accept an Ethiopian couple as apartment owners because of their color. Then a group of Ethiopians walked all the way to Jerusalem in the cold and demonstrated there outside the Knesset and the PM's office. There is no doubt that there is color racism in Israel, but it is less severe than one might think, especailly compared to the USA. What annoyed the demonstrators is that the Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, who is from the former Soviet Union and belongs to Yisrael Beitanu, told them that they should be grateful that Israel helped them to come here. As a group that has upheld their connection to Judaism for 1,000 years in exile, they feel taht they should be treated more respectfully and who can blame them.

One of the problems is that many of them over hundreds of years were forcibly converted to Christianity. Ethiopia is a Christian country and although it is friendly to Israel, nevertheless there was terrible anti-Semitism directed against the Ethiopian Jews or Falasha. These converts or Falash Mura have mostly been accepted into Israel, although there are still thousands of them who claim to be Jews. Activists do not understand why the Israeli Government is so slow in repatriating them, but the Government points to the economic situation and the difficulty sometimes in confirming their original Jewishness. In any case the Ethiopians are becoming very integrated into Israeli society, in the professions, in the arts and in the military.

On another subject, last week a Saudi Arabian hacker, with the nickname OxOmar, organized a cyber attack from Mexico on several Israeli web-sites, including the Bank of Israel, El Al and the Stock Exchange. They never managed to interfere with the operations of these organizations, but did cause their external web-sites, where people go to get information such as flight schedules, to collapse. This was what is called a "denial-of;service" attack that involves too many users at the same time. However, the Israeli sites soon recovered and introduced more protections. The hackers also published on the web a list of Israeli owners of credit cards, but this was soon rectified. Then a group of Israeli hackers organized a pay-back, that turned out to be more extensive and more serious. They have disrupted the workings of the Bank of Saudi Arabia and published the names of thousands of users of credit cards and so on. The Israeli Government has said it does not believe in tit-for-tat in this area, but the Israeli hackers, who call themselves the "IDF Team," are supposedly acting independently. Their warning is "don't mess with us." Israel is far ahead of most countries in the cyber area.


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