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The Last of Ethiopian Jewry Heads to Israel

The final stages of immigration to carry into 2014

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A charter flight landed at Ben-Gurion Airport today carrying 240 Ethiopian Jews who are making aliyah to Israel. The Falash Mura–who were traditionally Jewish but converted to Christianity–have been immigrating in small waves since the daring Operation Solomon rescue in 1991. This effort is being described as the final stage of Ethiopian Jewish immigration to Israel, which aims to bring the final 2,200 Jewish Ethiopians by 2014.

This is a wonderful story, but as Daneilla Cheslow wrote for us back in 2011, the 120,000 Ethiopian Jews who live in Israel now have not managed to fully acculturate.

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2008 the unemployment rate of 13.8 percent among Ethiopian immigrants was more than double the national average. Ethiopians were statistically younger than the overall Jewish Israeli population, with four times as many single-parent families. While 17 percent of Jewish Israelis were on some sort of welfare, Ethiopian-Israelis receiving state support ran at 61 percent. Their children scored lower on school tests and were more likely to drop out of high school than their veteran Israeli counterparts. This is surprising because a third of Ethiopian-Israelis were born in the Jewish state, which would seem to portend better integration.

Also, when placed against the backdrop of the efforts by the Israeli government to deport African migrants, the true complexity of Israel’s immigration policy and concerns about its demography shine through.

Earlier: Unabsorbed [Tablet]
Last Stages of Ethiopian Aliyah to Begin [JTA]
Israel Rounds Up African Migrants for Deportation [Reuters]

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Robin Margolis says:

As the Coordinator of the Half-Jewish Network, I have been monitoring another problem Ethiopian Jews are facing.

Half-Jewish Ethiopian Jews who have an Ethiopian Jewish father, but do not have an Ethiopian Jewish mother — they are patrilineal instead of matrilineal — and still live in Ethiopia — are being denied aliyah. The Forward has an article about it here:

The Half-Jewish Network contains information on this poor treatment of half-Jewish Ethiopians on our website under “Ethiopian Jews” on the “Categories” list on our website.

julis123 says:

Every immigrant group arriving in Israel has had its share of problems. To link this with the illegal African immigrants is simply disingenuous.

Patrilineal descent should be permitted, and all immigrants should be integrated together. Don’t separate Ethiopian Jews while they are being absorbed. Let’s kiss the ghetto mentality goodbye.


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The Last of Ethiopian Jewry Heads to Israel

The final stages of immigration to carry into 2014

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