A Rare 2020 Happy Story

It was a bright warm sunny day as the large Airbus, emblazoned with the large red letters ETHIOPIA pulled up on the tarmac.

Out streamed 316 passengers … some sporting their “Sunday” best, others markedly more modest or even quite poor looking … but almost all of them smiling, laughing, waving.

Some were even crying … knelt down and kissed the ground … or the long red carpet laid out for them.

Red carpet?

Yes, a red carpet arrival for 316 Ethiopians at a place none of them had ever been before … but had prayed and struggled for decades to reach.

Not Europe or Britain or the US or Canada.

This was Israel last Thursday: the Ethiopian-born immigrants landing in their new home … welcomed despite Israel being right in the midst of the Covid pandemic!

What other country anywhere in the world is right now welcoming planeloads of immigrants? Arriving from Africa. Paying for their flights, providing them housing, language training, education, job training, absorption support. During Covid!

And on hand to greet the new arrivals: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah and other community leaders, including an Israeli Cabinet Minister of Ethiopian descent.

As I watched this story on Vancouver’s Joy-TV nightly Israel newscast, I was amazed!

The 316 Ethiopians were “olim” (immigrants) from villages in a remote region of northwest Africa, who trace Jewish roots dating back 2,500 years.

Another 120 arrived in Tel Aviv Friday and 1,500 more are scheduled to be flown to Israel by the end of January.

New lives established in an ancient land, a happy story in the midst of a pandemic that has produced so many sad stories worldwide of sickness and death.

And work is under way to eventually welcome any of the remaining 7,000 Ethiopian “Falashas”, as they are known, who also want to emigrate to Israel.

Joining 120,000 Ethiopian Jews who are already Israeli citizens.

A report in Deutsche Weld newspaper last week outlined the Ethiopians’ exodus and the terrible conditions the Falashas have endured over time: https://www.dw.com/en/israel-ethiopian-immigrants-get-warm-welcome/a-55810124

” Little is known about their origins, but it is widely believed they lead back to the biblical King Solomon. Forced to convert to Christianity in the 18th and 19th centuries, they adhered to their Jewish rites and later returned to Judaism,” the paper reported.

The arrivals tell a story of redemption and deliverance, perfect for this time of the year. Especially meaningful in view of all we’ve been through in 2020.

Think of the emotions felt by these people airlifted out of poverty, isolation and discrimination with a 3,500 km flight to a new land.

Just the photos of last week’s event lifted my Covid-stressed spirit: https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/hundreds-of-ethiopian-immigrants-get-warm-welcome-in-israel-1.5215091.

I find it interesting that CTV covered this story, as did several other media worldwide, but unless this news junkie missed it, I did NOT see it reported on BBC World, Al Jazeera, CBC National or CBC Newsworld.

Why am I not surprised!

Glad I could blog it … a brief respite from Covid coverage, in time for Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day holiday, which begins tonight (Thursday).

To my Jewish readers … and everyone, including the Ethiopian immigrants newly arrived in the Holy Land … a Happy Hanukkah.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: You can get FREE First Alerts to new postings on this BC-based Blog by following @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No spam, just alerts to new topics up for discussion.)

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16 Responses to A Rare 2020 Happy Story

  1. HARRY LAWSON says:


    A Happy Hanukkah. indeed

  2. Gilbert says:

    This story really resonates with me. It’s wonderful that Israel can welcome so many immigrants in the middle of a pandemic. The words of the Bible were true and Israel was restored to the Jewish people. It’s foretold in many verses such as Isaiah 11:11-12.

    I’m partly Jewish. My grandma on my mother’s side was Jewish, but I didn’t find out until I was 15. She was Romanian and her family was Catholic. Though she was born in Romania, her native language was German. Her ancestors had converted to Catholicism long ago. Her maiden name was Lang, a name that I thought was just a German name.

    Do you know what was really ironic? Though she was Jewish, her favourite composer was Richard Wagner. She once helped to organize the works of Richard Wagner at the Seattle Opera, and she attended the Bayreuth Festival.

    When I found out that my grandmother was Jewish, she told me she wasn’t proud of it. I was surprised, but when she told me that many intelligent people such as Albert Einstein were Jews, I was filled with pride. It also really motivated me to study hard and get good grades.

    I’ve never visited Israel, but I think it’s an amazing country. It’s a fertile land in the middle of a desert, it has amazing scientists and doctors, and it’s a democracy. I also love that Israel doesn’t waste money on skyscrapers and ski domes, but gives us great inventions such as the rooftop solar hot water system and the world’s smallest video camera. I wonder how much more Israel could accomplish if it didn’t have to spend so much of its budget on defence.

    (Response: Of course, it’s a land with problems: they may soon head into their fourth election in five years! Lots of divisions, not just with the Arabs, but inside the country too between religious and secular people, left and right, rich and poor etc etc.. Yet, although the whole country is smaller than Vancouver Island, there are now 120,000 Ethiopian-origin Israeli citizens! Can you imagine if, even in good times, our government(s) wanted to settle on Vancouver Island several thousand immigrants from Africa … not scientists, teachers, lawyers etc but people from remote villages, with no knowledge of English? And doing it NOW during Covid would be unimaginable! I think it’s a fascinating story… perfect to mark the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah … and for the Ethiopians maybe even a little miracle. h.o)

  3. 13 says:

    My wife once asked me why people hate Israel. I tried to explain the bias against Jewish people . The creation of the state. Being surrounded by hostile countries. Religious
    disputes, land disputes . I explained that some people even believe that Israel exists to fulfill biblical prophecies . The reason she asked was because we had watched a program that highlighted many aspects of Israel that were positive.
    Thanks for another positive story Harvey.

    (Response: Every morning I watch Al Jazeera and I regularly watch BBC World and CBC The National: in my view, they ALL are anti-Israel, portraying the country in negative terms, relating to the Palestinian conflict … and even that, reported with a very biased anti-Israel slant. But I do see positive mid-East stories/features on all of them about Arab culture, Arab food, Arab musicians, Arab athletes, Arab business achievements, Arab historical discoveries but I NEVER see ANY positive stories about anything Israeli people do: their culture, their technological achievements, their medical and scientific developments used around the world, their agricultural aid projects in Africa and the amazing degree of exertion and expenditure they put into providing for and airlifting out so many impoverished Ethiopian villagers. And during Covid too! The Israel news (ILTV) on Joy TV daily at 6:30 p.m. provides me a counterbalance to the anti-Israel slant of CBC, Al Jazeera and BBC … and, by the way, it also shows the country’s blemishes … protests of all kinds, settlements, their crazy politics. h.o)

  4. Beenie says:

    Great story Harvey. Thanks for all humanity for reporting this story.

    (Response: It was a beautiful sight ..seeing all these people not just arriving in a new land, but being welcomed by the Prime Minister. Reminded me how Trudeau/Canada once welcomed refugees that Trump/US turned their backs on …but for Israel to do that during Covid ..and not just one planeload but another one the day after and another 1,500 on their way before the end of January seems to me really remarkable. What a way for Israel to celebrate Hanukkah! Freedom! h.o)

  5. DBW says:

    Harvey, you promised Hawgwash a positive story and here you are. It is a good story, an interesting story from a historical perspective alone. Well-done. Except… you couldn’t help yourself.

    Why spoil the story by throwing in digs at other countries especially singling out the UK, Europe, (Trump aside) the US and Canada who have done much for refugees and been criticized in Canada’s case of being too generous by some of the readers on this blog,

    And why spoil it by tossing in a critique of news organizations you don’t like. Here is the story from your second favourite punching bag by the way. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-55171742

    And as a former journalist why didn’t you point out that the Israeli government made the promise to relocate these people years ago and some people are critical of the slowness of the process.'”Originally, Israel declared its 30-year Israeli resettlement campaign for Ethiopian Jews to be over in autumn 2013.” “The government is celebrating a few hundred immigrants from Ethiopia, while thousands were supposed to be here and are still left behind while their fate is in question,”.

    And why aren’t you questioning the reason for this “Although the families are of Jewish descent and many are practicing Jews, Israel does not consider them Jewish under religious law.”

    Now before anybody attacks me, my sole purpose with this post is to show how easy it is to be a hypercritical, government bashing cynic and I did it without using fascist, tyrant, radical, extremist, or Big Brother Benny.

    I actually think it’s a pretty cool story.

    (Response: Because this is a BLOG … not a news service! And on blogs, opinions of the writer …not just yours as a responder… are a key part of the “action”. And I believe the story of the Ethiopians is a PERFECT opportunity to point out: a positive story happening in a usually tumultuous part of the world; something Israel has done which I think is terrific; and, to alert readers to observe when they watch TV how biased I believe the CBC, Al Jazeera and BBC are against Israel. You cite an article from BBC on-line … NOT BBC World News, the TV worldwide network that I regard as pretty well the unofficial voice of the PLO. Even the article you point to has a negative “half-empty cup” slant inserted on what should have been a simple, joyous story: not something I see in BBC World News stories when they highlight something nice or an accomplishment in the Palestinians territories. As for what’s left out … geez…it’s an article, not a Complete History of the Mid-East, Israel or Canada’s treatment of refugees. I’ll watch Letters to the Editor in the Vancouver Sun when they announce something achieved by a First Nation or new funding of improvements by Ottawa, for a response from you wondering why doesn’t the article include the history of Canada’s colonization and conflicts with First Nations going back at least 50 years. h..o)

  6. e.a.f. says:

    Thanks for the happy story and Happy Hanukka! Israel has a policy where by any Jewish person can claim the right to live in Israel and become a citizen. It means everyone, not just the rich, talented, brilliant, etc.

    For those who are younger or have just forgotten, Israel took in thousands upon thousands of Russian Jews several decades ago. Many were scientists but many were also professional musicians from orchestras. There were so many professional musicians working in labour jobs, they had a joke in Israel that you could form a first rate orchestra just in the works dept. of Tel Aviv.

    When the U.S.S.R. “came apart”, many Jews took the opportunity to move to Israel also. From there they were able to move to other countries if they wished to and some did.

    Thank you again for the happy story!

    (Response: The country truly is a walking, talking, working version of the United Nations … with almost as many problems/challenges! BTW that includes 1.8 million Arabs … who, let’s keep it real, are not fully equal citizens in every way …yet, but unlike the 900,000 Jews in Arab countries who after 1948 were brutalized, expelled, their homes, businesses seized without any compensation, Arabs who stayed in Israel hold citizenship, enjoy higher incomes, better education and health care than almost any of their kin in Muslim countries and polls have shown almost NONE of whom would want to move to a Palestinian state or any other Arab land. h.o)

  7. BMCQ says:

    What a positive, heartwarming and uplifting story !!!

    Yes, it is a “Good News” story and it is something we can all use right now .

    I spend time in Israel, I would have visited there again for 3 days at the end of last September if not for c – 19, hopefully next September all being well .

    I travel a lot and Israel is like no other place one could spend time in . I could tell you some very interesting stories that would amaze you .

    I am so thankful you provided this information to us, I hope we hear more of it on other media, although I doubt we will see much on BBC, CBC, CNN, WAPO, NYT, and so many other anti Israel Anti Semitic media .

    You mention Anti Israel and Anti Semitic media and politicians which is very true, I cannot believe how Anti Semitic some groups like the Canadian Green Party are, yet
    they are never held accountable, then he worse of them all the UK Labour Party and their former Leader Jeremy Corbyn, what a bunch of thugs, no wonder they lost in so many former Labour Strongholds during the last overwhelming victory by the BOJO Conservatives !!

    I have mentioned this to you on two previous occasions, and now that we see the terrorist events, murders, bombings, rapes, knifings murder by car or truck, and other heinous crime becoming daily events in the EU I feel more strongly than ever about my feelings than ever before .

    Canada and the U.S. when bringing in immigrants should first consider bringing minority Jewish people from the EU where they are being brutalized and in fact murdered every day . Some in media and more than likely want to convince the public that the racism that Jewish people face is from right wing groups when in fact 95% of Anti Semitic behavior in the EU is being perpetrated by Islamic Extremists . As Joe Biden would say, “No Joke” !!


    We should also first consider Jewish minorities from the Middle East and Africa as Jews in those places are also murdered and brutalized every day .

    We should also equally first consider welcoming Christian minorities from Africa and the Middle East, they are another group murdered and persecuted almost every day Islamic Militia , Despicable .

    Both of those groups offer much and when they arrive they want to assimilate and unlike to many migrants now tearing apart the EU they DO NOT want to change our way of life and they do not believe that their religion supersedes our “Rule of Law” !!

    I am sure some here will eject my thoughts but guess what, “Facts are Facts” and you cannot change that with “Spin”, lies, and half truths .

    Israel has it’s warts but as a friend of mine with a wonderful family that lives in Tel Aviv told me a few years ago “Bobby I can tell you this for a fact, each and every night I go to bed I do not know if any of us will wake up the next morning” !! He also said this to me, “We can never lose a battle because it will be the last one we ever lose” !

    Think about that just for a few seconds, how would you do under those circumstances?

    I only hope that Joe Biden “Does not throw Israel under the bus” like POTUS Obama, Obama did nothing but throw Israel and it’s good people an anchor !!

    Here is another good example of what Israel and it’s people stand for . Of course I could find nothing on this from CNN, WAPO, NYT, CBC, BBC, so you will need to take the word of Breitbart . I wonder why Liberal media avoid this story ? Keep in mind that once treated the patient cannot disclose where they re3ceived the life saving treatment as they would be tortured and murdered . Think about that !


    Israel, it’s people and now the new immigrants from Ethiopia will be a little safer now that the “Bad Orange Man” has secured FOUR Middle eastern Peace Treaties between Israel and Arab Nations . Somehow I missed that on CBC, CNN, BBC, or the rest . The
    Middle East and Israel Peace deals are probably next to C – 19 the Biggest News Story of the year and we get “Crickets” from Liberal Media, despicable .


    I am confused, why would Jerusalem not name their main square after POTUS Obama ?

    The Ethiopians who are soon to become PROUD Citizens of Israel will work hard, they will prosper, and they will become Great Citizens of the Jewish State !

    God Speed !

    Of course I will be vilified for this and I have said this before Harvey but whenever you post a positive blog piece about Israel you do not get much reaction, could many of your punters be influenced by the Green Party of Canada, the UK Labour Party, CBC, BBC, CNN, WAPO, or other PC SJW Hypocritical media outlets ?

    I wonder .

    Go ahead people, prove me wrong .

    Great Job Harvey !!

    I will now be recording the Israel news from now on !

    Happy Hanukkah !!!!!!

    (Response: The UK’s Human Rights Commission found Labour GUILTY of committing “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish people during Jeremy Corbyn’s four-and a-half years as party leader. Corbyn was suspended by the party …but then readmitted three weeks later. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-54976558 . Disgusting! As for Israel secretly treating Syrian civilians, they do more than that: they have also treated many seriously ill Lebanese civilians, including kids whose parents have clandestinely approached the border pleading for assistance. And West Bank and even Gazan Palestinians with critical injuries/illnesses are regularly treated in Israeli hospitals … interestingly, their preferred choice instead of going to Jordan or Egypt, including Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians chief negotiator, a liver transplantee, whose family chose Hadassah Hospital in October to try to save him from critical Covid complications: unfortunately he passed away several weeks later.

  8. Gilbert says:

    Harvey, you’re absolutely right. Israel has many problems, but also many successes. Reviving the Hebrew language was an amazing accomplishment. I know there is a bird sanctuary there named after former prime minister Stephen Harper, a true defender of Israel. My wife and I would love to visit Israel some day. Without doubt, it is a beautiful country.

    (Response: No country is perfect, and as the ILTV nightly newscast shows Israel has LOTS of internal, external problems, social disputes, labour issues, cultural, religious blemishes and chaotic political problems … but considering their history and their challenges, it is an amazing country that succeeded almost beyond the imagination. But seeing all those people from Africa being WELCOMED during the Covid pandemic as new immigrants by the Prime Minister and the Israeli nation deserves special mention .. and puts many other countries to shame. Just FYI, I will say that, among charities I support are: International Fellowship of Christians and Jews ( https://www.ifcj.ca/site/SPageServer/) and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ-Canada) https://ca.icej.org/ . Both seem to do really good deeds. h.o)

  9. Jimbo says:

    Harvey, At the risk of being brief, being anti-Israel is not antisemitism. The occupied Palestinian territories will forever be in dispute unless a return to 1967 borders is somehow built through compromise – now probably very unlikely.

    (Response: You are correct: people can be critical of Israelis not necessarily being anti-Semitic. But if you listen to those who are the first, you quite often quickly discern the second. h.o)

  10. nonconfidencevote says:

    Years ago I worked with an Israeli ex fighter pilot . Great guy. Funny as hell.
    I asked him one day what the population of Israel was, and when he told me it was about 7 million, I was shocked.
    When I commented that I though it was at least 10 or 15 million because of all the turmoil he laughed and said, “No, but we act like we are!

    (Response: I know they have a big program trying to attract more Jewish people to immigrate to bolster the population .. especially those with skills and education, but I think the patriation of the Ethiopians goes further: part of a repatriation of all the original tribes/remnants … a very big cultural and religious goal. h.o)

  11. DBW says:

    Following up on nonconfidence. There are only 15M Jewish people worldwide, still below their pre-holocaust total. About 8M live in Israel and 5M in the US. Canada has the fourth most with just under 400,000. Given the history of discrimination and their small number, it is remarkable their accomplishments.

    (Response: We should all wish Israel success … and peace with all their neighbours. ILTV has done stories in just the past couple of weeks of all kinds of new agreements/deals already being signed with all kinds of Bahrain/UAE businesses …high tech developments, advanced fresh water production systems, tourism …even a UAE sheik buying 50% ownership of an Israeli soccer team (true, still not going over well with some fans?! LOL). Just think of the possibilities if the Palestinians got their own house in order (PLO vs Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad etc etc) and made peace … land exchanges to protect security concerns, then trade, agricultural co-operation, economic investment, education access/assistance … even seaside vacation resorts in Gaza. But first they have to stop firing rockets! h.o)

  12. DBW says:

    Given your response to my last post, I think you misunderstood my intent. I wasn’t knocking your post I was showing how easy it is to be (unnecessarily) negative which has been a discussion point for some of your regulars. But now that we have got this far, I want to follow up on one of my comments. Why spoil a positive story by throwing in complaints about media bias? Look what happened.
    In adding another positive story BMCQ made this comment.

    “Of course I could find nothing on this from CNN, WAPO, NYT, CBC, BBC, so you will need to take the word of Breitbart” suggesting further mainstream bias. Would he have added that without your comment? So here’s me. Instead of reading the story from Breitbart I decided to fact check. I typed “israeli field hospitals help syrians bbc”
    and got several BBC links like this one.


    I changed bbc to cbc wapo cnn and nyt and got several more links from all of them including these.


    Less than a couple of minutes.

    So yeh. Thanks BMCQ I was able to read the story from several reputable sources instead of Breitbart. And it is a good positive story.

    Am I being a nit. Probably.
    Does my fact check prove that those outlets are not biased. No.

    But if people are going to be making claims using evidence that is baseless, why should I believe anything they say about any topic. I am going to write them off as being biased or worse scroll right by.

    Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate and here’s hoping for a better 2021.

  13. BMCQ says:


    This is Harvey’s Blog but I must admit …………

    You can be a bit of a nit but personally I do not mind so much as you add a lot to this blog with much of your fact checking, it is up to the other bloggers or Harvey to challenge, prove wrong, or accept . I rarely ever fact check your fact check as I consider you to be honest and therefore it makes for a better blog . That is meant as a compliment, do not get carried away .

    I will also admit I can generalize a bit from time to time and perhaps include the odd media outlet in my criticism of Liberal Media that may indeed cover various stories but far too often that positive story might be buried and even more often not enough, too often iMHO most of those mentioned are too quick to be negative about Israel, your fact check will show you that . To use another example, “Many” (not all) media are “Mostly” negative toward Israel with the odd positive story but they are still not fair and balanced, then there is the fact, again my opinion that “Much” of media is far too positive to the whole “Pro Palestinian” propaganda machine, again you may have a different opinion to me and that is ok . Some of those media are also not hard enough and often ignore the different Militia Groups Who do everything they can to harm Israel and it’s people, keep in mind that some of those terrorist acts also injure, and kill many of the people they claim to fight for .

    The fact is many of those media outlets do the minimal in positive stories about Israel and yes sometimes it’s people but perhaps just enough to escape scrutiny . No one can convince me the CBC and BBC to name two are fair to Israel and do not favour anti Israel organizations, that would be more than “Fake News” .

    Thank you for implying my claims are “Baseless”, in future I will be careful not to generalize by using specific names of media when possible, I will say “Many” or perhaps “Most”, I was not attempting to fool or trick anyone .

    In closing I would like to say that I find it remarkable that some here find absolutely no fault with some of the “Whacked Out” claims and comments by others who happen to share the same ideology as the “Fact Checker” .

    All I ask for is equal treatment . No wonder my wife, family, and friends ask me why I bother .

    (Response: We should ALL “bother” … because it’s important to make the people’s views known to those in power, and not just through elections or polls, and I have it on fairly good authority this blog is pretty widely read, monitored by those in politics government, media, business! h.o)

  14. DBW says:

    OK. I think I am on topic here if the topic is good news stories.

    Right now, I am part way through a book called Humankind by Rutger Bregman. The premise is that, in general, humans are kind, that we are not a bunch of evil people who need the constraints of a strict society to rein in our baser instincts.

    At the beginning he talked about the power of placebos and then talked about nocebos (a term that had never seen before) which are the opposite of placebos; they have a negative effect.

    If all we discuss is the negative side of society and government then of course we have a jaundiced view of the world. And we respond that way. And that is the nature of news. Bad stuff is news. Good stuff isn’t.

    Look at the discussions we have had about the government’s response to covid. For the most part everyone of us is on the same page (ie no deniers here; willing to do whatever it takes for the common good) yet we argue over our perceived view of the evil represented by the people in the other team’s bubble. So yeh, Harvey, maybe we need a whole lot more positive stories. You may not get a lot of comments but reading Gilbert’s response was reward enough.

    BMCQ. Why bother? My wife feels the same way, but it depends on your purpose. If you are here to convert the hearts and minds of others then good luck. I am here to keep my mind active through discussion and maybe learning something by looking further into various topics. Especially now when we are cooped up.

    As for thinking I am treating you unfairly. I did not say your claim of media bias was baseless. I said you were using baseless evidence. I will call out egregious statements that are easily proven false. Besides, it’s not like you haven’t upbraided others with “you are welcome to your own opinion but not your own facts.”

    Still buds??

    (Response: News is seldom anything good/normal, like planes landing safely, buildings not catching on fire etc. But sometimes there’s something special that comes to the fore and is worth noting: that’s what I felt when I saw those Ethiopians being WELCOMED in a new land during Covid, whether Israel or any other country. And the fact it was the Jewish Hanukkah added another happy dimension for them. Want more good news? Just saw this Canadian Press story on the Internet … good news for all of us in Canada … yet, interestingly, this one too has a Hanukkah theme. https://nationalpost.com/news/first-shipments-of-covid-19-vaccine-arriving-today-with-more-en-route-monday 🙂 h.o.)

  15. BMCQ says:

    As I have stated on this blog on a few occasions, I am happy to admit a mistake . I did say on my fifth paragraph “I doubt we will see much on” but later on said “Could not find” , my mistake . I will make a not to say “Not much” in the future, then it becomes what ones definition of “Much” means . I still stand by the anti Israel bias on “Most” media like CBC, BBC, and more .

    (Edited..off topic. h.o.)

    Still friends, I come here for many reasons but mostly for the argument, the discussion, and the debate .

    You can see up the page where I told Harvey that I predicted that as usual a positive Blog Post about Israel would draw “Crickets”, think for the most part I was correct .

    (Edited…off topic. h.o)

  16. BMCQ says:


    Thank you for the interesting story, it must have been very interesting for you to unpack that one !

    My God Parents were Jewish and absolutely incredible people .

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