sraelis from the Ethiopian community hold up photographs of their relatives in front of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office in Jerusalem, 18 December 2007, during a demonstration against the government's decision to close down next week operation to bring Jewish Ethiopian to Israel.(GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
JTA reports that on August 28, the Jewish Agency will end mass aliyah from Ethiopia, with two final flights taking 400 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel.
Once the final flights are complete, Ethiopians wishing to immigrate to Israel will be subject to the same rules as potential immigrants from elsewhere in the world and considered on a case-by-case basis, a New York-based spokesman for the Jewish Agency told JTA.
This isn’t the first time the immigration program for Ethiopians has been said to be ending. On October 29, 2012, Tablet reported what was believed to be the last plane of Ethiopian immigrants to land at Ben Gurion Airport.
A charter flight landed at Ben-Gurion Airport today carrying 240 Ethiopian Jews who are making aliyah to Israel. The Falash Mura–who were traditionally Jewish but converted to Christianity–have been immigrating in small waves since the daring Operation Solomon rescue in 1991. This effort is being described as the final stage of Ethiopian Jewish immigration to Israel, which aims to bring the final 2,200 Jewish Ethiopians by 2014.
According to the Jerusalem Post, though, the Jewish Agency is now more interested in “upgrading cooperation with Diaspora communities,” and working on outreach on college campuses:
According to [Natan] Sharansky, Israel’s government will be “broadening” its involvement in these matters, including “bringing more Jews to Israel” on various long and short-term programs. Such activities could serve as the basis of programs encouraging the aliya of “young professionals,” which will be the “center of activity in months to come,” he said.
Heritage Florida Jewish News reports that the Jewish Agency compound in Gondar is being turned over to the Ethiopian government to oversee, signaling what appears to be a final end for the Agency’s involvement in mass immigration efforts.
The compound in Gondar, which earlier was under the auspices of the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, “will not be needed beyond July,” said Misha Galperin, who heads the Jewish Agency’s department of international development. “That’s it. There’s no more.”