Thursday, January 08, 2004

Ethiopia/Israel: fate of the Falasha Mura

According to most news reports, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom today announced that, starting next week, Israel would speed up efforts to move 18,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

Wrong. There has been a clarification.
"Shalom did not say we would be bringing them from next week," said his spokesman, Moshe Devi.

... Israel currently allows some three hundred Falash Mura into Israel each month.

Foreign Ministry officials said that Ethiopia preferred this gradual approach that would spare them the embarrassment of again having thousands of their citizens airlifted out the country.
Falasha campaigners in Israel want 1,000 moved to Israel each month. But some in the government are worried about the cost of bringing the Falashas to Israel.
Budget supervisor Uri Yogev said at a meeting last week with Absorption and Interior ministries officials that he put the cost of bringing the Falashmura to Israel at $2 billion - $100,000 per person. [Immigration and Absorption Minister Tzippi] Livni this week said the cost of absorbing a Falashmura immigrant is ten times more than other immigrants.

... The total cost of absorbing the Falashmura is difficult to estimate, but an Haaretz investigation showed the cost is far lower than budgets supervisor Yogev says.
There's more on the cost issue here ... as well as a bit on the whole "are Falashas Jews?" issue.

And the worry that some of the Falashas waiting to immigrate to Israel may not even be Falashas ... this from Ethiopian rabbis in Israel.