The New York Times: The Ethiopian Civil War provokes a heated debate over the transfer of the rest of the Falashas to Israel

The war in Ethiopia sparked a sharp debate in Israel about the transfer of the rest of the Falasha Jews in Ethiopia, between those who demand an acceleration in this and those who do not see the need to transfer them at all and doubt their Judaism.

The New York Times reported, report He mentioned that thousands of Falashas are currently waiting to be flown to Israel, while the Israeli government does not see an urgent need for that.

The report indicated that with the escalation of the war crisis in Ethiopia now, anxiety began to increase among the Falasha Jews in Israel, and they began to pressure the Israeli government to rid thousands of their relatives from the dangers of civil war.

sharp disagreements

The report added that the fate of the rest of the Falashas became mired in sharp disagreements over the situation in Ethiopia, the legitimacy of allegations of their Jewishness, the numbers of those eligible for Israeli citizenship, and accusations of racism.

Opponents of more family reunifications say that the indigenous Jews of Ethiopia and their descendants – many of whom were converted to Christianity by European missionaries in the late 18th century – have already long since left, and that those who fill the waiting camps now are mostly relatives of unchanged or unchanged converts. They have a weak relationship with Judaism, and once they emigrate, relatives of relatives will want to come, turning the emigration from Ethiopia into an endless process.

Many Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters say that large numbers of those who converted to Christianity did so under duress, remaining in separate communities in Ethiopia and maintaining their traditions. They accuse the Israeli government of racism, discrimination and encouraging Jewish immigration from wealthy countries.

Who is the Jew?

He mentions the question “Who is the Jew?” It was linked to the Israeli immigration policy and relations with the diaspora, and the ancient and complex history of the Ethiopian Jews known as “Beta Israel” posed a special challenge. .

Israel had announced that the task of relocating the rest of the Ethiopian Jews had been completed several times, the last of which was in 2013, but two years later, under pressure again, the government said it had decided to bring the last of the Falashas waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar to Israel by 2020.

The procedure required for transfer was to invite candidates by a first-degree relative in Israel, to arrive at the camps before the end of 2010, and to commit to making a religious conversion to Judaism once in Israel.

The number of qualified people was estimated at about 9,000, of whom 4,000 have arrived since then, including 2,000 last year, and the government agreed this week to speed up the transfer of the remaining 5,000 without specifying any time frame.

The flash is constantly increasing

But it is said that the number of people waiting in the camps is now at least 8,000, due to the increase in the number of family members during the years of waiting.

To make matters worse, the Israeli National Security Council assessed that there was no urgent need for an immediate rescue, even though the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs had just withdrawn the families of its diplomats from Addis Ababa, and warned Israelis not to travel there.

“You cannot play a double game, either this or that, either there is an emergency situation or there is no, they need to make decisions,” said Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai – referring to differences within the government -, adding that his position is to bring them As soon as possible, “and then we can say that this process of 40 or 50 years is over.”

On behalf of her primary constituency, Israel’s Minister of Immigration and Integration Pnina Tamano Shata – herself a member of Beta Israel – defended those who were left behind.

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, the conservative custodian of the state, is more cautious, and is reviewing Ethiopian immigration criteria.

mysterious news

Another setback came with the emergence of mysterious news in the Israeli media this week about a group of 61 Ethiopians – mostly Tigrayans – who were secretly brought to Israel from Sudan last July, and this was done at the request of a member of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel , amid allegations that their lives were in danger.

An Israeli Interior Ministry document issued last August and reviewed by The New York Times stated that 61 people had no clear family ties to Israel, nor – in most cases – any connection to Judaism, and that they were not in danger but simply took advantage of the system.

Activists have questioned the timing of the leak, saying it was intended to harm efforts to bring the remains of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

“It’s a fraud, this group has nothing to do with the Falashas in Addis Ababa or Gondar,” said Uri Berednik, head of the Ethiopian Jewish Immigration Organization.

“It’s endless, after these 10,000 there will be another 10,000 with first-degree relatives, then more next of kin,” said Ben Dror Yemini (a prominent columnist for Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper), describing the ongoing immigration as a fraud.

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