Israel Reverses Decision: Agrees to Accept More Ethiopian Jews

The Jerusalem Post | Updated Sep 15, 2008
Above Photo by Ricki Rosen (The Jewish Journal)

By RUTH EGLASH

Interior Ministry representatives will continue checking the eligibility for aliya of some 3,000 Ethiopian Falash Mura, who claim that under a 2003 government directive they should be allowed to immigrate to Israel, the government announced Sunday.

The decision to continue the flow of immigration from the African nation follows more than a year of high-profile protests from the local Ethiopian community and its supporters after Interior Ministry officials declared that all eligible Falash Mura – Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity under duress more than a century ago – had been checked and approved for aliya.

In January, the ministry recalled its Gondar-based representative.

Despite claims that aliya from Ethiopia was all but over, local community members, representatives of North American Jewry and a growing number of MKs believe that there are still between 9,000-15,000 Falash Mura who fit the criteria. Over the past year, they have demanded the government continue checking their applications.

Sunday’s decision will allow almost a third of those to at least try proving that they fit the criteria, which includes a maternal link to Judaism and relatives already living in Israel.

In addition, the Interior Ministry will now be obliged to determine an official policy on immigration from Ethiopia.

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