Activists to demonstrate for Ethiopia's remaining Jews outside Deri's home

Activists and Ethiopian olim whose family members are still in Ethiopia, waiting to come to Israel, will protest outsider Interior Minister Aryeh Deri's home beginning Tuesday evening.

May 26, 2018 18:03
2 minute read.
"If I'm Jewish, my brother is too" poster from the Campaign for the Aliya of Ethiopia's Remaining Je

"If I'm Jewish, my brother is too" poster from the Campaign for the Aliya of Ethiopia's Remaining Jews. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The Ethiopian community is returning to the streets to protest — this time in front of the home of Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri, called "the Pharoah" by Ethiopian Jews waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar to be allowed to make aliya.

The campaign, using the slogan "let my people go," was organized leading up to the meeting of the special ministerial committee on the issue of aliya from Ethiopia on June 18.

"Separated families, along with activists pressuring the government to allow Ethiopia's renaming Jews to make aliya to Israel, will begin weekly demonstrations this Tuesday, May 29, in front of the home of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in Jerusalem," said a statement to the media released by the protest organizers.

"Activists from the community see the interior ministry, acting under Deri's authority, as the main body responsible for the aliya delay and for the lack of implementation of the government's decisions from 2015" on the aliya issue.

Members of Ethiopian families separated by the policy, including Sintayehu Shifaraw, the runner up of the International Bible Quiz whose mother and siblings are waiting for permission to emigrate to Israel, will speak at the demonstration.

Deri granted Shifaraw Israeli citizenship in April after an investigation by The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv uncovered that he had to make a special deposit of bonds ensuring his return to Ethiopia immediately following the conclusion of the competition, before being granted entry into Israel for the event.

The demonstrations at Deri's home will continue every Tuesday evening until the special ministerial committee meeting on June 18. The fate of the 8,000 remaining Ethiopian Jews waiting to make aliya to Israel will be decided at the meeting.

The government decided to allow the remaining Ethiopian Jews to emigrate to Israel in 2015, but the decision was never implemented.

Unlike the previous interior minister, Eli Yishai, Deri "does not follow the teachings of his own rabbi, the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who advocated for aliya from Ethiopia. The minister [Deri] is also acting in contradiction to the opinion of the chief rabbi of the Ethiopian Jewish community, Rabbi Reuven Wabashat, who has publicly stated that the aliya of Jews waiting to come to Israel should be sped up," the statement said.

"Minister Deri is avoiding his responsibility for the issue of aliya from Ethiopia. He allows headline-making 'celebs' to immigrate, and in this way silences the many others who also qualify for aliya, but do not make the headlines.

We demand that Minister Deri take responsibility for the issue of the aliya and entry into Israel for this community, as his ministry does for every other population. We expect the minister to present a proposal to the prime minister's office before the ministerial committee meeting on June 18, which addresses the fate of all 8,000 Ethiopian Jews waiting to make aliya and adheres to the criteria laid down in the 2015 decision," the statement continued.

The interior ministry did not reply to requests for comment by the time of publication.

Translated by Samuel Thrope.

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