Ethiopian Aliyah Center to Close
The Interior Ministry plans to close its aliyah office in Gondar, Ethiopia in two weeks after signing what it says is the last immigration permit for Falash Mura who are eligible to move to Israel. There is a discrepancy between the number of Ethiopians considered eligible by the Interior Ministry, and those considered eligible by the umbrella organization for Ethiopian immigrant groups in Israel, who are outraged by the decision.
"There are 8,500 people who left their homes and villages and came to Gondar in the hope of immigrating to Israel," said a spokesman for the group, Avraham Negusa. "These are people who have parents, siblings and children already living in Israel. And now along comes the Interior Ministry and changes the policy."
The government's immigration criteria are based on a Jewish legal determination by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar who ruled that a Falash Mura must be able to prove matrilineal Jewish ancestry for seven generations back, have a first-degree relative already in Israel and promise to undergo a halachic (Jewish legal) conversion upon their arrival in Israel.
Consider what would have happened if a fraction of these criteria had been utilized with Russian immigrants--imagine the huge drop in immigration...of non-Jewish Russians.