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Photo: Amir Cohen
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit
Photo: Amir Cohen
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Rabbi Yoel Ben-Nun
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Ethiopian Jews slam Sheetrit's proposal as 'racist'
Association for Ethiopian Jews concerned that interior minister's proposal to limit Law of Return's application may be racially motivated. 'We didn't hear him call for cessation of Russian immigration,' says AEJ

Members of the Association for Ethiopian Jews met with representatives of the Jewish Agency Wednesday, and voiced their concerns regarding Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit's suggestion of amending the implementation of the Law of Return.

 

"The Jewish State was not formed so that those who arrived first would suddenly decide to close the gates. I hope and trust that there are enough individuals within the Jewish people and the Israeli community that wouldn't allow that to happen," said Rabbi Yoel Ben-Nun, a senior member of the association' board.

 

"If the matter were up to me, I would invest more funds in aiding the community already in Israel as opposed to bringing more here"," Sheetrit said on Tuesday in a controversial speech before the Jewish Agency Board of Trustees.

 

Sheetrit also urged the JA to concentrate their efforts on the Jews already in Israel rather than investing resources in bringing the members of the lost tribes to Israel; and further suggested that immigrants seeking Israeli citizenship would have to take to language proficiency test to prove they can speak Hebrew, as well as reside in Israel for five years before being considered for citizenship.

 

"I'm very sorry to see Israel's interior minister demonstrating such signs of post-Zionism… so he says 'stop the immigration for Ethiopia.' Why not? Two-thirds of Ethiopian Jews have already come to Israel. As far as he's concerned, the last third can either go to the United States or try and make it in Ethiopia.

 

"I don't understand who he is trying to impress," added Ben-Nun. "He allows complete gentiles from Russia into Israel based on the grandchild clause (section 4a of the Law of Return states that the grandchild of a Jewish person may immigrate to Israel even if he of she are not Jewish themselves). Why, because they are white and educated? One might suspect a hint of racism in his words. After all – I didn't hear him call for the cessation of Russian immigration."

 

The Association for Ethiopian Jews was formed in order to implement the government's decision to bring all of the remaining Jews in Ethiopia to Israel.

 

The association's board includes Luba Eliav, Prof. Ervin Kotler, Justice Menachem Alon, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and numerous other public and professional figures.

 

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