Israel to close the door on Ethiopian Jews

Israel to close the door on Ethiopian Jews

Israel is a country built on the premise that it is a homeland for all Jews, wherever they are in the world.

Indeed, for some Zionists, it is the duty of all Jews to emigrate to Israel.

Ethiopian Jew kissing wall in Israel

Falash Mura make up the majority of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel

But for one group, the government is drawing the line.

The Falash Mura are Ethiopians who claim a deep Jewish lineage.

Over the last three decades, they have gone to Israel in their tens of thousands.

But the Israeli government has announced that the door will soon close with maybe a further 3,000 to be the last accepted. Thousands will miss out.

From Jerusalem, the BBC's Tim Franks reports:

Listen Listen to Tim's report (4 mins 35 secs)

There are thousands of Falash Mura who are living in Ethiopia, anxiously waiting to join their families in Israel.

Falash Mura prayer meeting in Ethiopia

About 120,000 Ethiopian Jews have settled in Israel

Tegabie Jember is in a camp in Gondar in the north of Ethiopia.

Conditions are said to be poor at these camps and many people have been waiting for years, hoping to go to Israel.

He spoke to the The World Today:

Listen Listen to Tegabie Jember (1 min 39 secs)

So what is the role of the Jewish state here and how do you qualify as a Jewish person?

Tudor Parfitt is Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London.

He has written extensively on the history of Jews in Ethiopia.

So what is Jewishness?

Listen Listen to Tudor Parfitt (3 mins 49 secs)

First broadcast 13 October 2008