The wrong sort of immigrants
Israel encourages immigration by Jews from Europe and the US, but those from Ethiopia are now less welcome
The Israeli government's decision to halt immigration from Ethiopia prompted angry scenes in Jerusalem on Sunday, during a protest outside the prime minister's house. Around 5,000 demonstrators voiced their condemnation of the authorities' actions, with the chairman of the Organisation of Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel describing the situation as "a crime against Zionism, and the original Zionist idea of saving Jews from around the world".
Israel is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to absorbing new olim [immigrants], largely thanks to the small print in the country's immigration policy. Mirroring Hitler's assertion that anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent was to be considered untermenschen, the founding fathers of Israel declared that anyone with similar ancestry would therefore qualify for full citizenship of the newborn state.
Over the years, millions of Jews have taken up this offer, and today around 15% of Israel's seven million population is made up of first-generation olim. Of that number, the vast majority come from the former Soviet Union, and the next largest group hail from Ethiopia, a country which has seen a mass migration of its native Jews to Israel dating back to the 1970s.