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Black Hebrews

The Black Hebrews, vegetarian polygamists from the U.S. who settled here more than 30 years ago, were recently granted permanent residence status in Israel. The 1,500 strong community, living in the southern desert town of Dimona, began with 350 followers of Ben Carter — now Ammi Ben-Israel — a Chicago bus driver who says the angel Gabriel told him that he was God’s representative on earth. [csr 2.3 2003]

Believing that African-Americans are one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, the Black Hebrews established businesses in crafts and tailoring, started a tofu ice cream factory, and set up several vegetarian restaurants. They were given temporary resident status in 1990 on condition that no more followers come to Israel. (AP, Internet, 7/29/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Black Hebrews
Group Receives Permanent Home
The Black Hebrews, a 1,500-member group of Black Americans whose founders settled in Israel thirty years ago, will be awarded a permanent home in a new Negev agricultural village near the Egyptian border. The government is also planning to provide them a new neighborhood in Dimona to solve their severe housing shortage. [csr 2.1 2003]

The Black Hebrews, who have in many ways assimilated into Israeli society—group members represented Israel in the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest—are led by the charismatic Ben-Ammi Carter, whom some believe exercises cult-like control over followers. They have been pressing for some sort of official recognition for years. [csr 2.1 2003]

Black leaders from the U.S. reportedly helped lobby for a solution to the Black Hebrews’ status. Israel rejects claims that they are authentic Jews, and failed to get them to convert to Judaism so that they can be recognized as full citizens. (Ellis Shuman, Israel Insider, Internet, 11/26/02) [csr 2.1 2003]