Israel has been slow to admit Ethiopians whose ancestors converted to Christianity, not seeing them as fully Jewish even if they practice Judaism.
JERUSALEM — The Israeli government on Monday approved an airlift of 2,000 Ethiopians of Jewish descent to Israel in the coming months, prompting angry reactions from Ethiopian Israeli activists who insist that about 8,000 should be resettled.
Israel permits Jews around the world to settle there under its Law of Return, but does not grant that right to people known as Falash Mura, descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity about a century ago, many under duress, though they identify as Jewish or of Jewish lineage.
“We need all of our brothers and sisters to be brought here,” said Kassahun Shiferaw, an Ethiopian Israeli activist. “Only allowing part of them to come is not sufficient.”
Jews in Ethiopia, known as Beta Israel, were largely cut off from the mainstreams of Judaism for millenniums and their faith evolved in somewhat different form, but Israeli authorities have generally recognized them as Jewish. Since the 1970s, tens of thousands have been admitted from Ethiopia, where they had faced persecution.