Israel to welcome 2,000 Falash Mura from Ethiopia
JERUSALEM (WJC)–Israel has resumed a scheme to airlift 2,000 Falash Mura – Ethiopians of Jewish descent – out of the east African country and bring them to Israel. The scheme was halted in August 2008, when the Israeli government announced the airlifts would be ended.
Eighty-one new immigrants arrived on a flight from Ethiopia to Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning. The Falash Mura community converted to Christianity under pressure in the 19th Century. Some 8,000 still in Ethiopia want to emigrate to Israel.
The scheme was halted in 2008 after the arrival of the last of some 20,000 people the Israeli government had agreed to allow entry in 2003. However, campaigners continued to press for those still waiting in Ethiopia – many in poor conditions in transit camps – to be allowed into Israel.
Israeli officials have been checking cases individually, a process which has proven difficult because of intermarriage with Christians and a lack of documentation. The Jewish Agency for Israel, which facilitates immigration, said the 81 were the first of 600 people who had already been determined to be eligible to come to Israel. The agency said it expects another 2,000 people to be allowed to come to Israel within the next year.
The Falash Mura trace their roots back to the biblical King Solomon. However, they are not eligible to enter Israel under the Law of Return, which guarantees a place in the country for every Jew, because they have largely been unable to prove they are Jewish. Ethiopian Jews who kept their faith throughout centuries of adversity were flown to Israel in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress