The Jerusalem Post reports:
Bringing the remaining Falash Mura to Israel is not necessarily a priority and the delay of their immigration is not simply a matter of money, Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
He made his comments following a meeting of the ministerial committee devoted to the subject, which decided not to increase the rate of immigration of Falash Mura from 300 to 600 a month despite the previous government’s commitment to do so.
Jewish Agency Chairman Ze’ev Bielski was opposed to delaying the pace of immigration, while Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze’ev Boim was “uncomfortable” with Tuesday’s decision, according to sources in his ministry.…
Ethiopian activists and American Jews involved in raising money for the Falash Mura condemned the decision as racist and not based on financial reasons.
“I can’t remember a time in Israel’s history when aliya policy was decided by budget considerations. I find it even more puzzling that [this decision] would be made at a time after the government decided to cut the VAT… The government has the financial wherewithal to do right by Jews returning to Israel,” said Steve Hoffman, who is president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and was the president of the United Jewish Communities when the UJC started to work on a campaign to raise $100 million for the Falash Mura.
Hoffman called the NIS 3.5-to-4-billion estimate “overblown,” while Israel-based immigration professionals also expressed surprise that money was cited as the reason for delaying the Falash Mura immigration rate, since they thought the funds had already been budgeted. A spokeswoman for the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, however, said that only resources for the current rate of 300 per month were currently available.
Hoffman attributed Israel’s alleged disinterest in bringing the Falash Mura to race.
“It’s because they’re from Africa. That what I believe. I hate to say it. I’m embarrassed to say it. But I don’t have any other explanation,” he said.
For his part, Bar On claims to be concerned about the poor quality of absorption and the formation of “ghettos” as a result. However, it should be noted that Bar On has not proposed a solution to the absorption problems, nor has he suggested funding any solutions to them.
Perhaps American Jewish leaders are finally beginning to realize what Ethiopian Jewry activists said 25 years ago is true. Racism is endemic in Israeli political circles. 25 years ago, the same could be said for American Jewish leadership, as well. Thank God that is largely no longer the case.
Related post here.