This article discusses the processes of de-diasporization and re-diasporization experienced by the Israeli-Ethiopian community in Israel but which take a special twist regarding the homecoming of a Jewish diaspora. At first the Ethiopian immigrants’ culture and religion were marginalized or silenced. Yet, the older generation progressively returned to their linguistic, religious, social, cultural and economic practices, forming a “little Ethiopia” in Israel while the younger generation, who strove to become as Israeli as possible, began feeling discriminated, leading to the beginning of a protest movement in 2015, demanding social justice and inclusion in the Israeli narrative. A second part examines physical and virtual “returns” to diasporic spaces through an ethnic revival and the re-appropriation of Ethiopian roots among the younger generation (in theatre, dance, music, literature and visual arts), as well as through return trips to Ethiopia and “heritage tourism;” new identifications, with a global Black diaspora, and the emergence of Israeli-Ethiopian diasporas living abroad, complicating yet again the notion of “home.” This paper thus shows how Israeli-Ethiopians challenge notions of homecoming and question constructions of location, displacement and identity.

issue 16 / December 2019 by Lisa Anteby-Yemini