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Their genes are so mixed up they look like their Mongol

Posted on 23 September 2010

Their genes are so mixed up they look like their Mongol neighbours, their memories so faded they speak a Tibeto-Burmese language and eat pork. A tribe exiled from Israel by the Assyrians about 720BC finds its way, via Afghanistan and China, to this thin slice of India sandwiched between Bangla-desh and Burma. “Internally, I feel I am an Israeli, not an Indian.”It is hard to imagine a more unlikely story. “It is our mitzvah, our duty to go,” he said after blessing and breaking the bread at a sabbath gathering in his home in the state capital, Aizwal. Just as the Passover marks the Jews’ departure from Egypt for Israel, so he hopes this year will mark his departure for the Promised Land.On Thursday, a call from Israel said a place had been put aside for him, his wife, Leora, and his 12-year-old son, Sampson, in a Golan Heights settlement. Plastic Israeli flags and photographs of Jerusalem adorn the chipboard walls. All together, they dip their middle fingers into plastic cups of grape juice, calling out in Hebrew the names of the 10 plagues they believe their God sent to curse the ancient Egyptians.

That administration ended 30 years of Labour dominance after an election victory of which Weizman was widely credited as the architect.A tall, handsome and at times outspoken man, Weizman was nevertheless difficult to fit into a political stereotype. Israel’s Vice Premier Shimon Peres said last night that Weizman was unique. “In war, he showed incredible bravery, and when peace appeared on the horizon, he enlisted for it He always searched for the original, the daring and the new. He knew how to warm the hearts of thousands.”On the one hand, with the then Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon he helped to promote the Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank which followed Likud’s victory.

And much later, as President, although he invited Yasser Arafat to his home in an attempt to advance the peace process, he became increasingly – and publicly – critical of the strategy pursued by Yitzhak Rabin, particularly the second Oslo accord in 1995. Ezer Weizman, the former President of Israel, and among the last of the elite generation of warrior-politicians who dominated the country’s public life for more than half a century, died last night at the age of 80. As reported in The Independent on Friday, a Mexican professor who along with eight other men has alleged that a priest who was a close friend of the late pope, Fr Marcial Maciel, sexually abused him when he was a child, claimed that Cardinal Ratzinger had failed for seven years to investigate the charges. Professor Jose Barba believes that when Cardinal Ratzinger finally opened an inquiry, last December, it was in order to remove possible controversy from his attempt to become Pope.Fr Maciel retired in January as leader of the ultraconservative order he founded, the Legionaries of Christ. On the other, he was, one of the enthusiastic architects of the rapprochement with Egypt which led to Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1977 and the subsequent peace treaty with Egypt. Weizman, who was the nephew of Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first President, was the first to make a state visit to Britain, in February 1997 – 49 years after the establishment of Israel and the end of British mandate in Palestine. He was an RAF pilot in World War II.A bomber pilot in the 1948 War of Independence, the key figure in developing the Israeli Airforce, and the military Chief of Operations during the six day war in 1967, he was the first Defence Minister in Menachem Begin’s Likud government.

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