Israel Will Bring 3,000 Ethiopians Of Questionable Heritage To Israel

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Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog (2nd-R) and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (C) greet Ethiopian immigrants arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on March 11, 2021. (The Jewish Agency)

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Israel’s government on Sunday approved the immigration of several thousand people from war-torn Ethiopia, some of whom have waited for decades to join their relatives in Israel.
Some 140,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. Community leaders estimate that roughly 6,000 others remain behind in Ethiopia.

Although the families are of Jewish descent and many are practicing Jews, Israel does not consider them Jewish under religious law. Instead, they have been fighting to enter the country under a family-unification program that requires special government approval.

Community activists have accused the government of dragging its feet in implementing a 2015 decision to bring all remaining Ethiopians of Jewish lineage to Israel within five years.

Under Sunday’s decision, an estimated 3,000 people will be eligible to move to Israel. They include parents, children and siblings of relatives already in Israel, as well as orphans whose parents were in Israel when they died.

“Today we are correcting an ongoing injustice,” said Pnina Tamano Shata, the country’s minister for immigration and herself an Ethiopian immigrant. She said the program was a response to people who have waited “too many years to come to Israel with their families” and to resolve a “painful issue.”

Tamano-Shata threatened to quit and cause a coalition crisis unless the government would agree to rescue the remainder of the Falash Mura community. Following the threat, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked held a meeting with her and agreed to bring the remaining members of the community to Israel, despite the fact that they are of questionable Jewish heritage and there are conflicting reports about the level of danger they are in.

Additionally, the last group of Ethiopians brought to Israel lied about their Jewish ancestry and some may have been former officers implicated in war crimes.

It was not immediately clear when the airlift would begin. The government appointed a special project coordinator to oversee the effort.

Kasaw Shiferaw, chairman of the group Activists for the Immigration of Ethiopian Jews, welcomed Sunday’s decision but said there was still a long way to go.

“On one hand, this decision makes me happy. Three thousand people are realizing a dream and uniting with their families,” he said.

“But it’s not a final resolution. Thousands are still waiting in camps, some for more than 25 years. We expect the government to bring all of them,” he said.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)


8 COMMENTS

  1. The Israeli government is not stopping to bring tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of non-Jews to Israel which will bring intermarriage and assimilation. Shame on them.

  2. Even if they are found to not satisfy the criteria for geirus, its still a great humanitarian effort given the living conditions of these individuals, most of whom have been living in terrible conditions for years and really have little if any ability to reintegrate with Ethiopian society, assuming they ever settle the current conflict.

  3. Those Ethiopian immigrants who were megayer properly, especially before the rescue became public knowledge in 1984, and their children, are of course Jews. But none of them have Jewish ancestry. There is no evidence of all that they are descended of Jews, and the legend about Shevet Dan being in Ethiopia is just that.

    Their own story denies any connection to Shevet Dan — they claim, of all the ridiculous things, that Shlomo Hamelech had a child with Malkas Sh’vo, and that they are descended of that son. Which is not only untrue, but if it were true it would not make them Jews.