23 March 2018
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  • » 03/13/2018, 16.52


    Ethiopian Jews tell government to bring their families to Israel

    Israel is home to about 140,000 Ethiopian Jews who moved there after 1975, when the Jewish State recognised their Jewish identity. About 8,000 are left in Ethiopia, separated from families already in Israel. The government has promised to get them out, but is not willing to spend the money to do so.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis demonstrated yesterday in front of the Knesset, asking the government to keep its promises to let 8,000 Ethiopian Jews into Israel, thus uniting hundreds of divided families.

    The Jews of Ethiopia – also called "beta Israel" – are a sensitive issue in Israel. Regarded as descendants of the Israelites who accompanied the legendary son of Solomon, Menelik, to Ethiopia in the 9th century BC, the Beta Israel went unnoticed for centuries to the outside Jewish world and for a long time were not considered for aliyah (ascent), i.e. immigration to Israel, because Israel did not consider them Jewish.

    Only in 1975 did the rabbinate and the Israeli government recognise their Jewish identity, opening the doors to their arrival in the Jewish state.

    At present, some 140,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, and their history of integration is far from successful: they endure great poverty, unemployment and lack of education.

    For Israeli authorities, the Beta Israel aliyah ended in the 1990s, leaving behind thousands of Ethiopians who consider themselves Jews, even though they are descendants of Jews forced to convert to Christianity last century.

    Under the Law of Return that regulates Aliyah, the descendants of converted communities are excluded from those entitled to Israeli citizenship.

    Due to the pressures of some politicians and the Ethiopian community, successive governments have allowed further arrivals over the years.

    However, about 8,000 Jews are still stuck in the East African country, most of them with close relatives already living in the Jewish state.

    In 2015 Israeli authorities promised to bring over the 8,000 Jews still in Ethiopia but have not yet authorised funding for the move. For this reason, the Beta Israel held a rally yesterday to demand the government keep its promise.

    "I have two sisters in Ethiopia still waiting for 13 years... (Our) mother is crying day and night, let's stop this pain," said one protester at yesterday’s rally.

    Protesters accuse Israel of discrimination, and they fear that the 2019 allocation is insufficient.

    The anticipated estimated cost of flying all 8,000 people to Israel along with housing and social services is roughly 1.4 billion shekels, or about US$ 400 million, a sizeable figure but a tiny fraction of a nearly 500 billion shekel (3 billion) national budget.

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    See also

    01/09/2009 ISRAEL
    Racism: Jewish religious schools refuse black Ethiopian students
    The decision is also supported by the Grand Rabbi of Israel, Shlomoh Ammar. Israelis annoyed by the racist gesture. The government cuts funding to the 3 schools that do not want students of colour. Perplexity of the Christian community.

    02/10/2017 15:19:00 NORWAY – ISRAEL
    Oslo ready to host Mordechai Vanunu, the whistle-blower who revealed Israel’s nuclear programme

    His wife has applied for family reunification. Vanunu worked at the Dimona nuclear power plant. In 1988 he was sentenced to 18 years of prison for high treason, and spent more than 10 in isolation. Since his release in 2004, he has been under a travel and media ban. For Israel, he still represents a threat to national security.

    11/11/2005 ISRAEL-VATICAN
    Father Jaeger: give substance back to accord between Israel and Holy See

    With Moshe Katzav soon to visit to the Vatican, an expert jurist -- a Catholic citizen of Israel -- tells of the difficulties and hopes pertaining to the relationship between the Catholic Church and the state of Israel.

    30/07/2005 VATICAN - ISRAEL
    Fr Jaeger: Israel – Holy See, a very profound crisis which Sharon could resolve

    The Israeli Franciscan, an expert in relations between Israel and the Holy See, denounces the cause of the crisis and proposes steps to be taken by Sharon and the Church.

    30/07/2005 ISRAEL - VATICAN
    An Israeli official is in Washington to repair the Israeli – Holy See crisis

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