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Increased Public Action Urged to Help Falashas Emigrate to Israel

January 31, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A Knesset member who recently toured Falasha communities in Ethiopia has called for increased public action on behalf of Falasha emigration from Ethiopia to Israel.

Dror Zeigerman (Likud-Liberals), reporting on his visit to the World Zionist Organization Executive here last week, called on the WZO and the Jewish Agency to put the Falasha issue at the forefront of their public endeavors because, as he said, “The more we talk about them (the Falashas) the greater their chances of being able to leave for Israel.”

Meanwhile, the signs of a thaw in relations bet ween Israel and Ethiopia continue. An Israeli travel firm announced this weekend that it would soon be organizing tours for Israelis to Ethiopia.

Over recent years there has been a total cut-of of ties between the two countries. Recently, how ever, there have been reports of a return of Israeli military advisers to Ethiopia, and, simultaneously, a group of Israeli social workers visited the Falashas in the Gondar area and reported their conditions were no worse than that of the surrounding non-Jewish populace.


Zeigerman, who visited Ethiopia together with a number of World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) activists, reported that the Falashas’ economic plight was bad and that they did suffer from anti-Semitism. But his report, too, was a very far cry from the account of starvation and systematic persecution of Falashas that have been published in recent years.

Experts like Louis Rapoport, the noted writer and researcher on the Falashas, believe there has been a marked improvement in the Addis Ababa government’s attitude to the Falashas over the pas year or two and this explains the disparity between recent reports and the earlier horror accounts.

The four-member group of Israeli social workers, which returned from Ethiopia earlier this month, reported that the Ethiopian government does not discriminate against the Falashas. Rather, the Falasha villagers are treated in much the same way as the rest of Ethiopia’s largely rural populace –including as regards land allocation under the agrarian reform.

David Makovsky of New York, a WUJS activist and a member of Zeigerman’s group, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his impression was that many or most of the Falashas want to leave Ethiopia and go to Israel. The group was impressed and moved, he said, by the number of Falashas who spoke Hebrew fluently. Makovsky stressed that the Falashas he had seen lived in poverty-stricken areas, and hence their economic plight.


The travel firm planning tourism from Israel to Ethiopia is Neot Hakikar a company that specializes in treks to Sinai and latterly in safaris to Kenya. Two directors of the firm recently visited Ethiopia and have returned with the impression that the country seeks to open its borders to tourism from all over the world.

“The Ethiopians will be happy to see Israelis visiting their country again “, the tour firm executives told Israeli reporters. They said they planned tours which would include visits to Falasha communities.

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