South Wing to Zion, an Israeli organization that promotes the immigration and absorption of Ethiopian Jews, asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday to intervene in Ethiopia’s arrest of the director of the transit camp in Gondar, which serves thousands of Ethiopians waiting to immigrate to Israel. Transit camp leaders closed it down yesterday to protest Monday’s arrest of Getu Zemene, who heads the Jewish community in Gondar and is one of the main activists promoting Jewish immigration from Ethiopia.
The camp’s deputy director, Vateto Geneto, said that Zemene was accused of belonging to the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, an American Jewish organization that is banned in Ethiopia. The group aims to help Ethiopian Jews survive in Ethiopia and reach Israel. Ethiopian authorities took Zemene to a prison in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday. Geneto said that people trying to keep Ethiopians from moving to Israel were behind Zemene’s arrest. * The Israeli government decided more than a year ago that Israel would take responsibility for the Ethiopians who are waiting to move here and double the number of Ethiopian immigrants allowed in, to 600 a month. However, the decision has yet to be implemented. The Gondar camp is the only one left in Ethiopia. Activists at the transit camp in Addis Ababa were arrested a year and a half ago, and that camp has since shut down.
* Now who might they be?
UPDATE: The Jewish Week has a detailed report that explains much of the infighting that led to aid compound’s closure.