The Eritreans, the overwhelming majority of whom are Ge’ez/Tigrayans, facing deportation from Israel are not an intolerable burden to be removed at all costs, but rather a strategic asset in the volatile Middle East and Red Sea region.
The characterization of Eritreans by the Israeli government as “illegal infiltrators,” economic migrants and a demographic and security threat to Israel is not only untruthful, but the opposite of the truth. These are people escaping a dire human rights crisis in their home country, the result of brutal social engineering by an extreme leftist, Marxist regime. Moreover, Eritrea is strategically located in the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, on the water route to the Suez Canal. Eritreans/Tigrayans share common security interests and threats with Israel, and historical connections to Judaism, Jewish heritage and values. Thus, it is a common sense for Israeli to build alliance with the Eritreans/Tigrayans.
According to the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea. Even the Israeli government recognizes the human rights crisis in Eritrea. The regime in Eritrea’s political objective is nation building, to create an Eritrean utopia, a new Eritrean national identity between the Tigrigna farmers and Muslim nomads, by equalizing and leveling their socioeconomic background through brutal social engineering and wealth transfer.
To accomplish this, the government enforces lifetime national service and free labor for all Eritreans/ Tigrigna between the ages of 18 and 65. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans/Tigrigna youth are leaving Eritrea (many die en-route), dispersing all over the world, including to Israel.
The overwhelming majority of Eritreans in Israel are Ge’ez/Tigrinya. The Tigrinya are the overwhelming majority in Eritrea and are the only indigenous people of the state of Eritrea and Tigray that share’s Orit/Torah heritage with Israel.
For nearly 3,000 years the land of Israel has been the heart, the soul and the foundation of the Jewish people – the homeland from whence its ancient traditions, culture and values have emanated, with Jerusalem as its political and spiritual capital.
For nearly 3,000 years, the nation-state of Eritrea and the nation of Tigray has been the heart, the soul and the foundation of the Ge’ez people, Ge’ez culture and “Orit” – Torah religion.
The Orit religion is a version of Judaism that has been practiced in this region for about 3,000 years by Ge’ez/Tigray/Tigrigna people, with Aksum being its political and spiritual capital. The Ge’ez people are the only black people who have their own alphabets, high-level civilization, and the cultural capacity to create effective and efficient commercial and military institutions.
Eritrea and Israel are the only non-Muslim majority countries on the Red Sea, and that are not members of the Arab League and The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In this region, Israeli has been fighting for the past 70 years. The Tigrayans/Ge’ez have been fighting Ottoman Turks, the Egyptians, the Italians and Islamists, etc., for the past 800.
The creation of the State of Israel is a blessing to the Tigrayans because all the attention has shifted from Eritrea to Israel.
At a time when the Middle East and the Red Sea region faces historic challenges, including increasing global threats and turmoil, growing Iranian influence in Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, etc., poses a strategic security threat to Israeli and its Sunni allies. Increasing Turkish presence in the Red Sea region, including a military presence in Somalia, Mogadishu and the recent deal to lease Suakin Island from Sudan should give Israel pause. In this region, Eritreans/ Tigrayans are the only people with whom Israel could build a real, strategic alliance to advance its security interests against its regional foes.
Eritrea has a lot to offer the Jewish state. Currently, Israel uses Eritrean airspace and the Red Sea for its flights to Asia, because Israel is forbidden to use Arab countries’ airspace including that of its Sunni ally Saudi Arabia. Although the Eritrean regime and Israel don’t have a warm relationship, it is believed that Israel maintains small naval teams in the Dahlak archipelago and Massawa, as well as a “listening post” in Amba Soira for intelligence gathering and monitoring Iran’s activities.
Thus, the Israeli government doesn’t want to get into a fight with the Eritrean government. The Eritrean regime has been humiliating the US and its Western allies, uncommon for a poor African country, restricting the movement of the diplomats beyond 30 km from Asmara, the capital city. And it is not surprising that Israel is planning to close its embassy.
The Eritreans/Tigrayans are proud people, who have survived for the past 3,000 years, kept our Orit/Torah religion and culture, language and way of life. Sooner or later, the Tigrayans/Agaiazians will replace the extreme-left, isolationist and aging dictator. We will return to our home country, and we are the future leaders.
Therefore, it is a common sense for Israel to build alliances with the Eritreans/Tigrayans. The Israeli government should stop the deportation of Eritreans/Tigrayans from Israel, not just because it is humane, but because it is the right thing to do for Israel’s longterm strategic national interests. As far as we are concerned, we have survived and we will also survive the Israeli deportation. After all, the Jews, who survived and built this amazing country where I am temporarily protected, are our model.The author is an Eritrean asylum seeker, a PhD candidate at the Minerva Centre for Human Rights of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and director of the Agaiazian Media and Education Centre (AMEC).