80 Falashmura Land in Israel as Thousands in Ethiopia Wait for Aliyah

This is the first group of Falashmura, descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity, to arrive in Israel as a result of an Israeli decision to bring 1,000 of the 8,000 still waiting in Ethiopia

Members of the Falashmura community arrive in Israel from Ethiopia, Ben-Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv, February 4, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

About 80 members of the Falashmura community arrived in Israel from Ethiopia on Monday evening, landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The Israeli government decided last October to allow a total of 1,000 Falashmura into Israel, out of a total of 8,000 who are waiting to make Aliyah. The Falashmura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity, often under duress, centuries ago, and identify as Jews.

This is the first group of immigrants to arrive in Israel as a result of the cabinet decision to bring 1,000 of those still waiting in Addis Ababa and the Gondar provinces in Ethiopia. Dozens of the arrivals are the parents and siblings of Ethiopian immigrants already living in Israel.

A member of the Falashmura community kisses the ground as he arrives in Israel from Ethiopia along with some 79 other members, Ben-Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv, February 4, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

In October 2015, the cabinet decided to bring the 9,000 Falashmura to Israel but only 1,300 had arrived by the end of 2017, leaving about 8,000 of them in Ethiopia as asylum seekers. As part of the October 2018 decision, the additional 1,000 immigrants will include not only the parents of Ethiopians now living in Israel, but also their daughters and sons if they are minors or unmarried.

Last November, hundreds of Ethiopian Jews demonstrated in a synagogue in Addis Ababa to protest the Israeli government's decision to allow only some of the Falashmura to make Aliyah. The protesters said this will leave many families split between the two countries.

Neggousa Zemene Alemu, a leader of the Jewish community in Addis Ababa and Gondar, called during the demonstration for Israelis of Ethiopian origin to think twice before they vote Likud in the coming election, because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not kept his promise from 2015 to help bring the community to Israel. During the rally, the leaders of the protest presented a petition for Netanyahu titled: “You promised, keep your promise.”

According to the community leaders, continuing to ignore the decision to bring the Falashmura community to Israel is psychological abuse, unfair and inhuman. The leaders of the struggle to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel called on Netanyahu to completely implement the cabinet decisions and not just use Ethiopians in Israel for political purposes for the election.