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Majority of recent Ethiopian immigrants to Israel are Christians

The reason for this substantial amount of immigrants identifying as Christians is that their Aliyah is considered a humanitarian act, of reuniting family members.

By Zvika Klein, August 17, 2023

Two-thirds of the immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel between 2020 and 2022 identified as Christians, according to official data from the Population and Immigration Authority. The official data was publicized by The Israeli Immigration Policy Center (IIPC) and was seen by The Jerusalem Post. It reveals that out of more than 5,000 immigrants from Ethiopia who arrived in Israel as part of Operation Tzur Israel, 3,301 identified as Christians. In contrast, only about 1,773 identified as descendants of Jews, though this wasn’t proved to be true according to Israeli authorities. Notably, none of them were found to be eligible for Aliyah under the Law of Return. The reason for this high number identifying as Christians, is that their Aliyah is considered a humanitarian act of family reunification. Therefore, it is now assumed that many members of the “Jewish communities” in Ethiopia are actually not Jewish and practice a different religion. According to a statement on behalf of the center, a conservative Israeli think-tank, “these findings are consistent with previous reports from the IIPC. The institute’s analysis of data from the Population and Immigration Authority showed that since 2000, only about 10% of Ethiopian immigrants identified as Jews upon their arrival in Israel.” How the Israeli government is addressing an influx of Ethiopian immigrants Earlier on Thursday, the Israeli government appointed a special envoy to investigate and then to recommend a solution for the Aliyah crisis from Ethiopia. Thousands of Ethiopian citizens claim they are entitled to Aliyah but the Israeli government says that Aliyah from Ethiopia is at an end. IIPC director Dr. Yona Cherki commented on these findings in a statement on Wednesday, claiming that “the State of Israel should enable every Jew who wishes to immigrate to Israel to do so. The transit camps in Ethiopia are periodically emptied and refilled, and every time a substantial number of people await their chance to immigrate. Data from the Population and Immigration Authority suggests that if there are individuals in Ethiopia who are entitled to return under the Jewish lineage, they aren’t making the move. “Conversely, those who are immigrating don’t hold the right to do so,” Cherki said, adding that the new envoy on behalf of the government should “define consistent criteria for immigration to Israel, applicable across all diasporas, in alignment with the Law of Return.” As mentioned, Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer, has appointed Brig.-Gen. (res.) Harel Knafo to spearhead a team that will assess Israel’s current immigration policy concerning Ethiopia on Wednesday. Pending approval from the Civil Service Commission, Knafo and his team will delve into the immigration challenges, particularly focusing on those awaiting Aliyah in Addis Ababa and Gondar. They will subsequently submit their findings to Sofer. Knafo commanded the Inter-Army Command and Staff College, headed the Southern Command, and led the 890th Battalion of the Paratroopers. Earlier this week, Israeli citizens of Ethiopian descent and advocates of Ethiopian Jewish immigration assembled outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. They demanded swift action to safeguard those eligible for Aliyah from the turbulent Gondar region. They pointed out to the Knesset that an astonishing 4,226 individuals from the camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa had filed requests for Aliyah. As the situation worsens, particularly in areas like Gondar, those awaiting their journey to Israel face dire threats to their lives. Last Thursday, Israel carried out a significant rescue operation, evacuating over 200 Israeli and Ethiopian nationals from Ethiopia due to the intensifying conflict between the Ethiopian Army and the FANO militia. The rescue comprised three planes that transported Israeli citizens, Jewish Agency personnel, Project TEN volunteers, and immigrants. The joint initiative was a collaboration between the Prime Minister’s Office and The Jewish Agency, with the security operations managed by the agency’s security officers. A coalition of advocacy groups supporting Ethiopian Jews voiced their concerns on Thursday. They emphasized, “The Department of Aliyah and Integration seems disconnected from reality.” They added, “Thousands of Israelis, ranging from soldiers to ordinary citizens, took to the streets recently, expressing their frustrations over the government’s seeming inertia. They’re deeply concerned about our kin caught in the conflict near Gondar. A significant number of Jews are in imminent danger in Ethiopia, accentuated by the recent declaration of a state of emergency.” Of these, 1,226 Jews have been officially recognized and qualify for immigration. However, despite its obligations, the Israeli government has not been proactive. The aliyah minister’s silence is deafening. His decision to form a committee “to review the matter” seems like a mere tactic to buy time. A report provided by the advocacy groups underscores the discrepancy between the reported figures and reality. “While news of the rescue operation in Gondar was heartening at first, the truth is only 44 out of the 204 rescued were eligible immigrants; the majority were Israeli citizens.”

This is an urgent call to prayer! Please pray for this Government who are not allowing these Ethiopian Jews to immigrate because they are considered to be Christian, even though they have relatives in Israel and therefore are legally allowed to enter Israel under the Law of Return. Pray God would say to the South, "Do not hold back!" (Isaiah 43:6) and bring all the Jews home. (Ezekiel 39:28) You can help in this Aliyah by clicking on Ethiopian Aliyah to bring these Ethiopian Jews home.

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