The Marginalization of Ethiopian Jews in Israel Absorption Policies and Trends in Ethiopian Settlement, Education, and Employment



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Immigration and settlement have long been part of the state of Israel s establishment, legitimization, and self-protection. The Jewish state was founded amidst the final events of World War II on the principle that it would serve to protect Jews in the future from persecution and extermination. Since then, Israel, following the concept of kibbutz galuyot or the ingathering of exiles, has performed many rescue missions. In the process of Israel s ingathering of Diaspora Jewry, the state has become ethnically divided. Ethiopian Jews, numbering 100,000 in the late 18th century, have a long history of religious oppression. They were rescued by the State of Israel in a two large missions, the first of which was Operation Moses in 1984-85, when 7,700 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted from refugee camps in the Sudan where they had settled after fleeing a civil war that had begun in Ethiopia in 1977. Then, in 1991, Israel executed Operation Solomon, which brought an additional 14,310 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. During both waves of Ethiopian immigration, Israel s Ministry of Absorption attempted to avoid the detrimental impact of settling Ethiopian Jews in peripheral areas through the new method of mediated absorption. This new method was proposed to ease the integration process for the Ethiopian Jews who were unfamiliar with Israel s western culture, and to guide them towards becoming fully integrated, independent citizens. However, a variety of economic, political, and social factors influenced the degree to which the government succeeded in their endeavor to slowly and deliberately ease Ethiopians into Israeli society. This project engages prior scholarship to synthesize a more comprehensive trajectory of Ethiopian absorption. It contextualizes the history of immigrant absorption in Israel in order to arrive at the social climate during Ethiopian immigration. It then considers the historical context of Ethiopian Jews and their social norms. Through close examinations of many statistical reports on the Israeli government s approaches to the housing, education, and employment of new immigrants, I have found that successful immigrant absorption is often at stake when considering government priorities. This research paper assesses the extent to which the government has perpetuated ethnic discrimination among its diverse Jewish citizenship, ultimately influencing the prosperity of Ethiopian immigrants in Israel.



Ethiopian Jews, Israel, immigration policy, immigrants, absorption