Waiting under smoldering sun
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Demonstration opposite Prime Minister's Office
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Falash Mura protest absorption failures

200 Ethiopian immigrants demonstrate outside Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. ‘If we were white a solution would have been found,’ shout enraged protesters

“Our Yom Kippur began yesterday,” cried 200 Falash Mura on Tuesday morning as they staged a protest opposite the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.


The demonstrators are rallying against what they call Israel’s "shameful" treatment of the new immigrants.


Falash Mura are Ethiopians of Jewish descent who converted to Christianity under duress. Their immigration to Israel has been the source of controversy, as many claim that unlike members of Beta Israel - Ethiopians who largely adhered to Judaism - Israel should not be obligated to absorb them. However numerous rabbis have declared them to be unequivocally Jewish and the state has set quotas for their immigration.


According to the protestors, their complaints have been ignored by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency. They intend on remaining outside the PMO throughout the upcoming Yom Kippur holiday.


Protesters intend on staying during Yom Kippur (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


The protestors and amongst them children, spent a cold Jerusalem night without blankets or mattresses. They awoke Tuesday morning after not eating or drinking since yesterday. However, they insist on remaining there and protesting the difficult situation they have encountered since making aliya to Israel.


One of the protesters expressed his anger saying, “We lost hope that the government will pay attention to us. If we were white the solution would have been found but the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption aren’t thinking about a solution.


“I am embarrassed that other countries’ media will film us and the world will see what condition, citizens of the country are in,” he added.


The Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews tried attaining a clubhouse and blankets for the protesting Falash Mura members and when a solution was not found, association representatives tried convincing them to return home at night; to no avail.


The State Control Committee conducted a discussion on the State Comptroller’s report regarding the aliya of Falsh Mura to Israel. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss noted in the discussion that aside from the many failures existent in everything related to the Falash Mura’s aliya to Israel, the way they were absorbed must be assessed.


“We decided to put a very strong emphasis on the issue of their absorption and not just their aliya, because the issue calls for immediate treatment,” said Lindenstrauss.


The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency committed that within 10 days they will present possible solutions to the protesters’ claims, reach decisions and assist.


In addition, officials have called upon the new immigrants to return to their absorption centers in order to prepare for the holiday.


“If the protesters decide to stay in Jerusalem anyway, the Jewish Agency will assist by providing food and other basic supplies in conjunction with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption,” said an official.


פרסום ראשון: 10.07.08, 17:04
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