The Ethiopian Divide on the Falash Mura

The contentious debate over the immigration to Israel of the Falash Mura — Ethiopians who claim descent from Jewish converts to Christianity — is pitting the two Ethiopian members of Israel’s parliament against each other.

Even as Israel’s government has declared an end to the mass-immigration of the Falash Mura, Ha’aretz reports that Mazor Bahyna an Ethiopian member of the Knesset from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, says that there are more 300,000 people left in Ethiopia who should be eligible to immigrate. “We have historical evidence and letters of Kessim [Ethiopian Jewish religious leaders] on the fact that forty years ago, there were more than 50,000 converts who were forced to change their religion,” Bahyna said.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Knesset member Shlomo Molla of the centrist Kadima Party, says that there are 5,000 Falash Mura left in Ethiopia who still need to have their claims analyzed, but that after this, the government should bring the immigration to a close. “This is a political decision that the government needs to make. If we continue to drag our feet on the issue, the breach will be grow and limitless numbers of Ethiopians without any connection to the Jewish people will be able to come here,” Molla said.

Ha’aretz offers the following analysis of the rift:

Ha’aretz itself has weighed in firmly in opposition to the absorption of the Falash Mura, taking a particularly strong stance in an editorial earlier this spring:

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The Ethiopian Divide on the Falash Mura

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