Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

1,000 Ethiopian Jews Will Be Brought To Israel, Leaving 7,000 Still There

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he has decided to bring some 1,000 Ethiopian Falash Mura who have children living in Israel to the country.

There are some 8,000 Falash Mura in Ethiopia awaiting permission to immigrate to Israel, most of whom have some family members in Israel.

The Falash Mura claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago under duress but now seek to return to Judaism. They must get special permission to immigrate to Israel due to their uncertain Jewish status.

“This is not a simple decision due to other ramifications that we have regarding members of the Ethiopian community; however, I am determined to do this and I add that this is in wake of 1,300 Falash Mura who have already come to Israel,” Netanyahu said at the meeting.

In 2013, Israel’s Interior Ministry approved the immigration of the remaining Falash Mura, and the Knesset in November 2015 unanimously approved a plan to bring some of them to Israel following a public campaign launched by the nation’s Ethiopian community and volunteer organizations. But the plan did not deal with the finances, which include the long-term costs of acclimating the immigrants.

An agreement to find money in the budget for the aliyah of the Falash Mura was signed in April 2016, and in 2017 some 1,300 Falash Mura arrived in Israel. The 2019 state budget, which was approved by the Knesset in March, does not include funds for Ethiopian immigration.

An organization representing Ethiopian-Israelis said that Netanyahu’s announcement is a disappointment to the community.

“In 2015, the government passed a unanimous decision to bring the remainder of Ethiopian Jewry to Israel, numbering approximately 8,000 individuals.  Today’s decision leaves 7,000 individuals behind and is a harsh deviant from the commitment that the prime minister is yet to fulfill.  Ethiopian-Israelis who have siblings and children still waiting to immigrate in Ethiopia, responded to this decision with much sorrow, upon understanding that another year would go by separated from their families,” Alisa Bodner, spokesperson of the Struggle for Ethiopian Aliyah, said in a statement. “The government’s foot-dragging of this issue year after year, has caused intense suffering for families who have been separated from one another, in some cases for over 20 years.”

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.