In This Review

Israel and Africa: The Problematic Friendship
Israel and Africa: The Problematic Friendship
By Joel Peters
I. B. Tauris & Company, 1992, 210 pp
The Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia: From Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century
The Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia: From Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century
By Steven Kaplan
New York University Press, 1992, 231 pp

These contrasting studies examine aspects of Africa's historical relationship with Israel. Peters' work joins the large literature on the ups and downs of Israeli-African links from the 1960s to the present, concentrating on the political and economic calculus underlying African diplomacy. It is balanced and well informed but unoriginal. Kaplan's book is a striking piece of scholarship aimed at demythologizing the origins of the Ethiopian Falasha, nearly 40,000 of whom have emigrated to Israel in the last decade under the Law of Return. Using the wealth of archaic documentary sources on Ethiopian history, the author, a professor at Hebrew University, argues persuasively that evidence from the 14th century onward establishes that the Falasha are a group shaped by Jewish influences but are almost certainly not the descendants of Jews.