The Israeli government has approved the resettlement of 2,000 Ethiopians of Jewish descent into the Israeli community in Israel. The Ethiopian Jews will be airlifted from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Israel in the next months. However, many Ethiopian Israeli activists are unhappy that the Israeli government recapitulated on the earlier plan to bring home about 8,000 people, choosing rather resettle 2,000.
Under Israel’s Law of Return, the Israeli government plans to resettle thousands of Jews scattered around the world by bringing them back home to resettle in Israel. But this resettlement does not include descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity even if they identify as Jews. The nation of Israel does not believe that Jews in the diaspora are true Jews since their religion or practices may have evolved into many forms as a result of where they live around the world.
Thousands of Jews in Ethiopia have faced various persecutions since decades ago, and the Israeli government has admitted many of them since the 1970s. Even then, around 150,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent who are already resettled in Israeli said they often face police brutality and difficulty fully integrating into the Israeli society. Many of them remain poor, unemployed, and marginalized in Israel, raising the question of racial discrimination in the country.
Many practicing Jews descended from Jewish parents that converted to Christianity, yet the Israeli government does not regard them as true Jews or fully Jewish in every sense of the word. Once they arrive in Israeli from another country, they must a new conversion process before resettling fully in the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved in 2015 that 10,000 people of Jewish descent in Ethiopia will be brought back and resettled in Israel before the end of 2020. But the government is now singing a new tune, citing financial constraints; and will only be able to bring 2,000 Ethiopian Jews back to the country. Thousands of others in Addis Ababa and Gondar among other run-down communities in Ethiopia have been trying for over 20 years to emigrate to Israel without success.
“It is unfathomable that the immigration from around the world continues, while quotas and limits are only placed on immigration of Ethiopian Jews,” many prominent people from the Ethiopian community in Israel wrote in a letter to PM Netanyahu. “There have been too many broken promises. The time has come for executing decisions.”
Tamano-Shata, the first Ethiopian Israeli to serve as a government minister, revealed that the government budgeted $109,320,000 to airlift and resettle 2,000 Ethiopians in Israel. She said she will arrange with the government to relocate 7,000 other Ethiopians to Israel between 2021 and 2023. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, Ethiopians brought into Israel will be quarantined for two weeks before they are allowed to integrate into the larger society.