Nadler Praises Israel’s Commitment to Relocate Ethiopian Jews by 2007

Feb 14, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today praised the Israeli government’s decision to relocate all eligible Falash Mura – Ethiopians of Jewish heritage – to Israel by the end of 2007.  Congressman Nadler has long been a leader in encouraging Israel to step up efforts to absorb the Falash Mura.  Most recently, Nadler sent a letter to Prime Minister Sharon urging him to raise the absorption rate and shorten the timeline for complete resettlement.

Nadler also praised the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ) for its tireless work on the issue.

“I applaud Israel’s decision to welcome all of the Falash Mura by 2007, and I applaud NACOEJ for its unflagging advocacy for the cause,” Congressman Nadler said. “This is a tremendous gain not only for Ethiopian Jews, but for all those who have made it a priority to see embattled Jewish communities resettled in safety and freedom.”

The Falash Mura have suffered in terrible living conditions for years.  In 1991, under pressure from advocacy groups and brewing violence in Ethiopia, the Israeli government airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.  But the Falash Mura – who had been forced to convert to Christianity decades before – were left behind.  Between 15,000 and 25,000 Falash Mura still await permission to immigrate to Israel.

Under the existing policy, Israel accepts 300 immigrants per month from the Falash Mura transit camps in Ethiopia.  The new arrangement will double that amount to 600 per month, and will transfer control of the transit camps to the Jewish Agency for Israel.  The camps are currently run by NACOEJ.

Officials agreed on the new arrangement at a recent meeting between Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor and Israeli policy-makers, including Prime Minister Sharon, Finance Minister Netanyahu, Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, and Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni.