JERUSALEM (Nov. 11)
The Ethiopian government has asked Israel to cease its aliyah activities in Addis Ababa on behalf of the Falash Mora, Ethiopian Christians who are converted from or are descendants of converts from Judaism.
A senior government official has formally advised the Israeli Embassy in the Ethiopian capital that Israel’s activities among the Falash Mora constitute a serious infringement of Ethiopian sovereignty, according to a report in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.
The official reportedly said the Ethiopian government considers the Falash Mora to be full Ethiopian citizens and subjects.
The Israelis have been working with the Falash Mora after agonizing debates about whether Israel should bring Christians to live here and under what circumstances.
The Israeli government decided to bring those Falash Mora who have direct family ties to Ethiopian Jews now living in Israel. Efforts are being made to bring the Falash Mora back to Judaism.
According to the newspaper report, a harsh conversation took place this week between an Ethiopian official, Hassan Shiffa, and Guy Ravid, the Israeli official in charge of working with the Falash Mora.
The Ethiopian official complained about ad hoc Israeli missions going to Addis Ababa and the province of Gondar on behalf of Israeli immigration and absorption authorities to check immigration applications by Falash Mora.
“We cannot accept that a foreign government determines the nationality of Ethiopian citizens,” Shiffa reportedly said.
Ha’aretz described Shiffa as the strongman of the current Ethiopian government.
The newspaper reported that Foreign Ministry sources think this turn of events can be attributed to a particular incident that took place during an Interior Ministry mission some weeks ago.
Shiffa reportedly told Ravid that the Falash Mora problem is not limited to the 130-odd families who have so far moved to Israel but that it “could affect millions of people.”
There have been reports that tremendous numbers of Ethiopians believe themselves to be descendants of Jews and would like the same considerations that the Falash Mora are receiving.