India: The Kuki people, possible descendants of one of Israel's lost tribes



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In northeastern India, a small ethnic group claims to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. The fervour of the Kuki people has persuaded the Chief Rabbi of Israel to approve their immigration to the Promised Land. Kuki men are traditionally fighters, so once in Israel most of them become soldiers, while their wives try to adjust to their new lives in the settlements.
Our reporters travelled to the valleys of West Bengal, where India meets Bangladesh and Burma, home of the mysterious Kuki tribe. These Asian Jews say they were forced into exile in this remote valley almost 27 centuries ago. Today, they practice an archaic Judaism and claim to be one of the lost tribes of Israel referred to in the Old Testament, a little like the Ethiopian Falashas.
Tensions have grown in recent years with the Indian and Burmese governments and for the Kuki people, the lure of a better future in Israel is stronger than ever. In recent years, some of them have been able to emigrate to Israel and make Aliyah. The men, who are traditionally fierce fighters, often join the Israeli army, while their families find a new home in the occupied West Bank settlements. Our Middle East correspondent went to meet some of those who have left everything behind for a new life in the Promised Land.
►► Also watch our report: “French citizens making Aliyah face challenge of new life”

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