Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews gathered in the capital, Addis Ababa, to protest the decision of the Israeli government not to allow all of them to emigrate to Israel, leaving their families divided between the two countries.
Representatives of 8,000 Jews in Ethiopia called on Ethiopian Jews living in Israel to think carefully before voting for the ruling party of Israel, Likud, for delays in repatriating to Israel.
Ethiopian Jews claim they are being blocked from emigration to Israel, despite a promise in 2015 to allow them to do this by the Israeli government.
“I urge Ethiopian Jews to think twice before voting for the Likud party, because party leader Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t keep his words to help us emigrate to Israel,” Negus Zemeni Alemu, the main coordinator of Ethiopian Jews in the Ethiopian cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar, the Associated Press reported on Monday, when hundreds of people gathered at the synagogue in Addis Ababa on Monday.
“I do not believe that the Israeli government has a financial problem to immigrate the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel,” he said. "I rather think it is a political move or racism."
On October 7, the Israeli government decided that only thousands of Ethiopian Jews would be allowed to move to Israel, which, according to the leaders of the Jewish community of Ethiopia, would leave many families. They said that Ethiopian Jews are starving, ostracized and deprived of basic needs in Africa, and the government in Israel is “dragging its legs to come to our aid.”
Eyyu Abuhay, the community organizer, said that 50 Ethiopian Jews had died since 2015, waiting for their family to join Israel. “We want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come to our aid before we all die here,” he said.
In February, Ethiopian Jews held a similar protest in Addis Ababa and warned that they would start a mass hunger strike if Israel removed funding to help them join their families in Israel. Since then, Israeli officials have visited Ethiopia, but the organizers have said that since then, nothing has changed.
Most of the more than 8,000 Ethiopian Jews in the East African nation practice Jews and are believed to have family members who already live in Israel. Some said they were divided over a decade.
But Israel does not consider them Jews under strict religious law, that is, their immigration requires special approval. They are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity about a century ago, and the Israeli government considers their return to Israel as a family reunion, and not “aliyah” or Jewish immigration. Families recognize discrimination.
In 1991, with Ethiopia in the civil war, Israel carried out the dramatic operation Solomon, which in two days transferred about 14,500 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Now about 145,000 Ethiopian Jews are estimated to live in Israel.
“Why are we not allowed to immigrate to Israel? Is it because we are black or uneducated? ”Asked Meleze Sidisto, coordinator of Ethiopian Jews in Addis Ababa, who then burst into tears. “I am deceived as a child. It is not right".
In a letter addressed to Netanyahu, the Ethiopian Jews in Addis Ababa stated that they wanted to go to Israel immediately and join their family members without any preconditions.
“Our family members die here while we wait for your promise,” the letter says. “Not the embodiment of promises in the game with the inhabitants of Israeli citizens. This is not expected from such a democratic state as Israel. ”