ICEJ Joins in Israeli Airlift of Ethiopian JewsPublished on: 4.1.2022
By: David Parsons & Anastasiya Gooding
In late November, the Israeli cabinet approved plans to bring home 3,000 more Ethiopian Jews in an emergency airlift out of war-torn Ethiopia. At the request of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem immediately committed to assisting with this urgent and historic Aliyah operation.
The decision to evacuate the 3,000 Jewish immigrants came amid reports of an escalation in the civil war in Ethiopia, with the president recently declaring a nationwide state of emergency and even going personally to the front lines to lead the battle against the rebel Tigray militia. The tribal conflict has already claimed thousands of civilian lives and forced more than 2.5 million people to flee their homes. Meantime, there are concerns over food shortages due to the worsening drought and famine conditions, and many nations have warned their citizens to leave Ethiopia. This has led to growing calls from within the local Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel for an “Operation Solomon II.”
The most vocal advocate for such an airlift has been Pnina Tamano-Shata, the current Minister of Aliyah and Integration who arrived in Israel from Ethiopia herself at age three in an emergency airlift in the 1980s. There were reports she was even ready to quit the Bennett-Lapid government if her evacuation pleas were turned down.
Under the agreement reached by Tamano-Shata and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, the government will be bringing 3,000 Ethiopian Jews still living in transit camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar, provided they arrived in the camps more than ten years ago and also have first-degree relatives already living in Israel.
The new cabinet decision will help implement an earlier government resolution from 2015 to bring home to Israel the last 9,000 eligible ‘Falash Mura’ – Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors were coerced to convert to Christianity several generations back. Over 4,000 of these have already been brought to Israel – more than half of them on Aliyah flights sponsored by the ICEJ. The current airlift aims to bring another 3,000 “in the coming weeks,” leaving 2,000 or so to bring at a later stage.
The Jewish remnant still in Ethiopia have been living in run-down transit camps for up to two decades now awaiting their turn to finally be reunited with their families who already reached Israel. We now have an opportunity as Christians to help lift them out of poverty and the growing dangers of the raging conflict, as well as to bring loved ones back together after many painful years of separation.
The Christian Embassy has pledged to be an active partner in this emergency airlift by offering to sponsor several hundred Ethiopian Jews on the first flights coming out of Addis Ababa. With your help, we can bring home even more, so they can reach safety in Israel and finally re-join their families in the Promised Land.
Please give your best gift today to help with this urgent and historic Aliyah operation.