The Jewish Week
Twenty-five years ago, a covert, 36-hour airlift spirited some 14,000 Ethiopian Jews out of the country during a civil war. Called Operation Solomon, it captured the imagination of the world.
The operation used modern technology, a fleet of airplanes, to rescue an ancient people — the Jews of Ethiopia, who are thought to have lived there for some 2,000 years, descendants of the biblical tribe of Dan.
It was a time of enormous pride in Israel for fulfilling a central tenet of Judaism, kibbutz galuyot, by bringing in Jews who yearn to settle in the Jewish homeland.
Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish population has subsequently risen to 135,000. But interest in the ongoing plight of thousands of Ethiopians, who declare themselves to be of the same Jewish stock and wait impatiently to settle in Israel, appears to have waned.
Following years of promises to bring to Israel members of the group commonly known as Falash Mura — a pejorative term in disfavor in Ethiopian Jewish circles — the Jerusalem government recently approved a plan to speed up their aliyah. But then it appeared to renege on the pledge, and subsequently announced that it will abide by the original plan, at a slow pace.
Some 9,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish group, whose relatives converted to Christianity under heavy pressure more than a century ago, now live in transit camps in Addis Ababa, the capital, and in Gondar, a major city in the northern part of the country. They came there with the hope of making aliyah but many have been waiting for more than a decade.
We cannot remain silent.
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Cover photo : File