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Emperor Selassie and Jewish Rastas?

Among the members of FJN there are many who identify as Rasta. Along the years we have had the occasion to speak about the Rasta perspective. First they always insist that there is no such thing as dogmas around the notion of being Rasta, as it is a highly personal choice and engagement. However, for millions of Rastas across the world, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is a rallying point. So we asked them about it. We sum up their answers.  Rastas come from many different religious backgrounds.
There are Rastas who are Christians, others such as Alpha Blondy come from a Muslim background, others come from a Jewish background and others are traditionalistst, or come from other religious backgrounds. So religion per-se does not describe what Rastas hold in common. But the truth upon which they all agree changes everything.
The Rasta movement sees religious differences as insignificant, compared to the generational consciousness about freedom and human dignity happening in our own times. This novel world awareness for them starts with Haile Selassie’s entrance on the world stage, when he gave his address before the League of Nations in 1935. This was when the Emperor openly denounced the evils of fascism and prophetically announced that it would also fall upon the West. Then the Emperor played a major role in defeating the fascists and started, from the heart of Africa, their dominoes downfall from power.
After the war when all agreed that he was proven right in his fight against racial segregation, his message focused on establishing universal rules of racial equality, and on the initiation of African unity. For all Rastas, this is the beginning of true history. A story which for the fist time can be told from the sufferer side.
Jewish Rastas also agree that through H.I.M. (His Imperial Majesty) the prophetic vision of human dignity became fulfilled, in our times. During WWII, Jews in Europe were the first lines of victims of white supermacists. In the eyes of the racist forces of fascism there was no difference between being a Jew or being Black. The ultimate target of these psychotic racial murderers is the black people. But anything that in their eyes stands in between is also the racial enemy. So Jews, Roma, Arabs, Asians, Native Americans, anything that can be tagged as non-white was on the genocidal program. To Jewish Rastas this is very clear. Genocidal White supremacist philosophy drove their people to near extinction. For Africans who had suffered slavery and wars, this association made by the Nazis between Jews and Blacks made no longer a doubt: Jewish is a new epithet for Black.   For Jewish Rastas, the 6 million who died in extermination camps are part of Black history, because they are victims of a racist philosophy, which set rules of sub humanity according to a race narrative. However high or low was their complexion, does not matter. In the nazi’s eyes, Jews were killed for the specific reason of not belonging to the white race.
Emperor Haile Selassie understood and taught that the struggle against the philosophy of racism is the very battle for the survival and soul of humanity. He showed that the forces of racism are the greatest threat to human morality, and contain all the evil that mankind has confronted in its history. Racism is fundamental disobedience to God, as it denies the image from which mankind was created. This mature message resonated in the consciousness of millions of Africans in his generation, and from their awakening came the call to form the African Union. We cannot overstate how important the lessons of post WWII are. The Nuremberg and Geneva conventions established standards which became the basis for international law in the United Nations. Jewish Rastas believe that our generation has globally witnessed the fulfilment of prophecy, through His Majesty’s crucial passage in human history. They see his message applying, regardless of religious or cultural background, because the idea of religious plurality is actually central part of this message. Haile Selassie famously said: “Whosoever makes a difference between a Christian and a Moslem, is an enemy of Ethiopia.” His longtime friend and collaborator was Mr Baamrant, an Ethiopian Jew who worked with him in establishing education curriculums in Ethiopian schools which oversaw the first generation of high degree education on an international level. Haile Selassie wanted freedom of religion for all in Ethiopia. When asked about his messianic status, Jewish Rastas say that if King Cyrus of Persia can ba called a ‘Messiah’ in the Hebrew Bible, for having allowed the return of the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem, Emperor Haile Selassie can also be called a ‘saviour’ for having defeated the fascists, and for having at his time universally warned humanity against the evils of racism. And of course for having raised the centrality of African unity. It is undeniable that Emperor Haile Selassie is part of biblical History on a world level. Everywhere he reached, the ancient stories of King Solomon’s legendary wisdom went along. Some Jewish people respect famous mathematicians others respect famous musicians or philosophers, but Jewish Rastas respect and revere this African historical figure. They consider that we can only call ourselves humanity, living at peace with each other in our diversity, according to the standards set by Emperor Haile Selassie, and by those of his generation who were inspired by the same Source, such as H.R.M. King Mohammed V of Morocco, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
For Jewish Rastas, these great leaders vision of a united Africa, is the basic ground of a true humanitarian society for our time,  in which all religions and cultures can share peace and prosper. As a spiritual sign they say one can see Rasta generation being written in the Book of Psalms (Tehilim)
תכתב זאת לדור אחרון ועם נברא יהלל יה
Let it be written for the last generation:
A created people shall praise Jah!
Those who praise Jah are the Rastas, in this last generation. They constitute ‘a created people’, because they come from everywhere. But what they have in common is the faith in Jah. And this, being initiated to the whole world by Ras Tafari, from whom they take their name “Rasta”. Religiously, they say the Emperor’s generation represents peace and respect between Christians Moslems and Jews. And it also represents the time when the inner teachings of each religion must be revealed and put forward. He said that on that mystic level, the different faiths already agree, and none should be imposed on the others. Rastas believe all religions were warned long ago that Haile Selassie’s time would come, and all were commanded to obey him. The one who, as a King speaking to the entire world, would show that only by hearing the voice of the sufferer, and by charity, Tzeddaka, shall humanity be redeemed. Who said “until the time that man shall see men as they are, in the eyes of their Creator”.
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