Israel's Black African Priorities

Muslim African refugees or Jewish African olim?

David Bedein

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
credit David Michael Cohen

Rescue operations conducted by the government of Israel to bring more than 16,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel represented one of the few times in history that a Black African community willingly and enthusiastically moved to a majority-White Western country.
The Israeli government is making every effort to absorb at least 5,000 Muslim Sudanese refugees.
From the point of view of Ethiopian Jewry, they had come home to Zion.

Having visited Ethiopian Jews during their trek from Ethiopia during Operation Moses in 1984, this reporter heard numerous stories from Ethiopian Jews about their own prophetic lore. Passed down from one generation to the next was a tradition that Ethiopian Jews would be repatriated to Zion when the last emperor of the Solomonic dynasty would fall. And when Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, was overthrown in 1974, that was one of the signs that Ethiopian Jews would indeed come home.

Although Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin now number more than 100,000, there were some Ethiopian Jews who were left behind. They are the 16,000 Ethiopian Jews from a group known as the Falash Mura, the remnants of Ethiopian Jews who had been forcibly converted over the course of previous generations.

After intense pressure, the Israeli government made a decision on February 16, 2003, that anyone who can trace maternal descent to Jews of Ethiopia would be allowed to return to Israel under the Law of Return. The Israeli government then launched Operation Promise to raise funds from Jewry around the world to bring this last community of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

With expectations raised, the 16,000 Ethiopian Falash Mura have moved their residence into three temporary compounds in the Gondar region of Ethiopia, awaiting their repatriation to Zion. However, the Israeli government will only allow 300 Falash Mura per month to arrive in Israel. No one in the Israeli government will give an explanation as to why such a low quota exists.

Meanwhile, although the Israeli government is supposed to be providing "Immigration Eligibility Forms" for the Falash Mura, no Israeli government representative has visited the three compounds where the Falash Mura have been lingering since the decision to bring
The Israeli government will only allow 300 Falash Mura per month to arrive in Israel.
them to Israel. No Israeli government official will give an explanation for this policy.

However, the Israeli government is making every effort to absorb at least 5,000 Muslim Sudanese refugees from Darfur, who are leaving transit camps where they had been living in temporary accommodations in Egypt. The Israeli collective farms known as kibbutzim are absorbing the Darfur refugees and giving them work in exchange for room and board. How an unpaid Muslim population will integrate into Israeli society is a question that no one in Israel is prepared to deal with.

Sometimes, the Jewish State welcomes non-Jews, for the purpose of cheap labor, while it turns its back on a Black Jewish population that perceives Israel as its home.

To learn more about the plight of remaining Ethiopian Jewry, check out the web site of The Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry at