Protesters call on government to implement cabinet resolution to bring 9,000 Falashmura waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar. ‘If these were 9,000 blue-eyed, blond children they would have been here yesterday,’ lawmaker says.
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About 1,500 people, most of them immigrants from Ethiopia or their descendants, demonstrated in Jerusalem on Sunday against the suspension of the program to bring to Israel the remaining members of the Falashmura community in Ethiopia.
The Falashmura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity. Many of the protesters have parents, siblings or grandparents who are still in Ethiopia and have been waiting for years for the government to bring them to Israel. Some of the demonstrators carried photos of their relatives.
The demonstrators called on the government to implement immediately a November 15 cabinet resolution to airlift the 9,000 Falashmura who have been approved for immigration and are waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar. All of whom have relatives in Israel.
In February the state announced it was suspending the program, saying it was approved without the requisite proof of funding.
The demonstrators marched from the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’uma) to the Prime Minister’s Office, carrying signs reading “cabinet resolutions must be kept,” “down with discrimination, down with racism” and “No discriminating between Jews.”
Knesset members Avraham Nagosa and David Amsalem (Likud) and Revital Swid (Zionist Union) attended the demonstration. For the past 10 days Amsalem and Nagosa have absented themselves from Knesset sessions to protest the freezing of the airlifts. In the wake of pressure from Likud MKs, on March 7 the Prime Minister Office announced that 500 of the 9,000 Falashmura — mainly those who were old, ill or without families — will be brought to Israel this year, saying the remainder would have to wait until the 2017 state budget is passed.