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All Falash Mura to be brought to Israel

Aliyah minister plans to bring remaining Falash Mura community to Israel

The Falash Mura are descendants of the Ethiopian Jewish community.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White) plans to bring the remaining Falash Mura in Ethiopia to Israel, Army Radio reported Thursday.

The plan was given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz last week for their review and will soon be brought to the cabinet for approval, the report said.

Interior Minister Arye Deri, who has final say over Falash Mura immigration, has yet to approve the plan. His spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The plan calls for 4,000 of the approximately 8,000 remaining Falash Mura to make aliyah before the end of 2020, with another two rounds of aliyah to bring the rest. Falash Mura aliyah started decades ago.

It will also close down the large compounds in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and Gondar, where the remaining Falash Mura reside and where communal activities are conducted.

In 2015, the government approved the immigration of some 9,000 Falash Mura. So far, just over 2,000 have arrived. Budgetary problems have been cited for the delay.

Tamano-Shata’s plan would require a special budget because the Falash Mura usually require more support in housing and social services than other immigrants.

The Falash Mura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews, but they do not have the right to citizenship under the Law of Return because their ancestors converted to Christianity under duress.

They are granted citizenship under the Law of Entry at the discretion of the interior minister on the basis of family reunification, and they undergo halachic conversion once in Israel.

According to experts on the Falash Mura, the remaining members of the community are patrilineal descendants of Jews and were not included in the halachic ruling of former chief rabbi Shlomo Amar, who said those of matrilineal descent should be brought to Israel.

Following news of Tamano-Shata’s plan, Sefy Blilin, a leading activist in the Ethiopian-Israeli community whose two sisters have been waiting 15 years to immigrate to Israel, said the time for government promises to be fulfilled has arrived.

“It is difficult to rejoice now because we are used to so many broken promises,” he said. “Our hope is that this is not another promise, but that this time, the promises will turn to reality and that Prime Minister Netanyahu will not stop the immigration as he has done in the past.”

“Already in 2015, the prime minister promised to bring everybody,” Blilin said. “It is time that he allows all the Jews in Ethiopia to immigrate. Then we can rejoice.”

Jerusalem Post Staff, Jeremy Sharon, August 13t, 2020

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