After months-long struggle with interior and immigration ministries, Ethiopian Jew joins his family in the Holy Land
By Judah Ari Gross |
Alemneh Mekonen, the brother of an Ethiopian-born Israel Defense Forces soldier, arrived in Israel on Tuesday morning, following a months-long bureaucratic struggle between the Interior Ministry and the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.
Chalachew Mekonen, who earned a citation for his actions in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, and fellow soldier Argaw Tesfaye had appealed to the government to allow their remaining family members to immigrate to Israel.
When news of the two soldiers’ struggle to reunite with their families broke after last summer’s Gaza conflict, then-interior minister Gilad Erdan granted the families special permission, but the case quickly became ensnared in the bureaucracy of the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.
Mekonen and Tesfaye are both members of the Falashmura community of Ethiopian Jews. The group’s request for immigration rights to Israel have been held up by legal disputes and confusion for years, as the community had converted — at least nominally — to Christianity. Supporters of the group’s right to immigrate say the conversions were performed under duress by missionaries in the 19th century, while those opposed argue that the group converted willingly.
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