Criticism regarding lack of integration: In Israel, many Ethiopian Jews feel as second-class citizens

Israel completes relocation of Jewish Falashas from Ethiopia (August 28)

On occasion of the completion of a resettlement-program to move Jewish Falashas from Ethiopia to Israel – which lasted for several decades – the Society for Threatened Peoples made a critical assessment, calling for a better integration of the new Israeli citizens. "For many of the Jews from Ethiopia, Israel is no longer a promised land. They suffer from racism, poverty and discrimination," said the STP's Africa-expert, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Thursday. "The resettlement of about 120,000 Falasha cannot be seen as a success, because the integration of the immigrants was disturbed by prejudice and a lack of education."

On August 28, another 400 Jewish immigrants will be flown to Israel, by order of the official Israeli immigration organization “Jewish Agency”. For the time being, this will be the last group of Ethiopian Jews to move to Israel. They belong to a group of 7,846 Falash Mura, whose relocation was accepted by the Israeli government in November 2010. The term Falash Mura stands for a population group of Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity in the 18th and 19th century. Most have stuck to their Jewish rites, despite the conversion. However, unlike the Falasha, some rabbis refuse to recognize them as Jews.

Tens of thousands of Falasha were relocated to Israel in spectacular operations named Moses (1984), Joshua (1985) and Salomon (1991). Most recently, about 200 Ethiopian Jews arrived in their new home country. The Falasha (meaning “immigrants”) refer to themselves as Beta Israel (House of Israel). While there were only about 100 Ethiopian Jews in Israel in 1977, their number rose immensely due to the official promotion of relocations to Israel in the 1980s and 90s.

Today, many of the Ethiopian Jews in Israel live in ghettos or illegal settlements. Their poverty rate is three times higher than for the population majority – and the unemployment rate is twice as high. More than 90 percent of those who have a job are employed in low-income jobs at a jeans factory. The disastrous social situation also causes a high number of suicides as well as many cases of domestic violence. In 2012, when the social protests in Israel increased, thousands of Beta Israel took to the streets, demanding more equality and an end to the racism. Even the state was accused of discrimination against the minority. In January 2013, the Ministry of Health was forced to admit that immigrants had received contraceptive injections without their knowledge. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish politicians had even suggested offering the new citizens money if they would emigrate again.