The so-called "Messianic Jewish movement" is recruiting in Ethiopia and stirring up trouble for the Jewish Agency for Israel, which wound down its aliyah immigration operations there earlier this year.
"These people are viewed by the government of Ethiopia and by their neighbors as Jews and are persecuted as such," said Joel Chernoff, General Secretary of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) in an interview published in The Jerusalem Post newspaper on Sunday. Chernoff contends that some 50,000 to 70,000 "Messianic Jewish" Ethiopians should be allowed to immigrate to Israel. All Messianics subscribe to the Christian belief in Jesus as the Messiah, yet insist they are still Jewish. Belief in Jesus is a direct contradiction of Judaism.
The government of Israel and the Public Council for Ethiopia Jews contends that the group MJAA is referring to has no ties whatsoever to the Jewish people. "This organization (MJAA) and the people it is working with in Ethiopia are in no way associated with the Falash Mura community currently waiting in Gondar for government approval to immigrate," said Council member Menachem Waldman. "These people are clearly not Jewish and they are working in areas where none of the people are Jews either; everything they are telling these people are lies."