June 14, 1999
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is deeply concerned that thousands of Jews from Quara continue to languish in Ethiopia, despite commitments by Israeli government officials in November 1998 to hasten their aliyah.
During the last six months, only several hundred Quara Jews have been relocated to Israel; between 3,000 and 3,500 remain in Ethiopia. At the current rate of emigration, it would take years to bring this community to Israel.
Poverty, disease, and hunger have taken a serious toll on the lives of these Jews. While the right of the Quara Jews to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return has been firmly established, the movement to expedite their departure has been disappointingly slow. In recent weeks, additional personnel have been assigned to this task in Israel. The Israeli government representative in Ethiopia responsible for processing immigration applications reportedly has interviewed a large number of families in Gondar as a step toward their aliyah. These developments are welcome. However, we believe that Israeli authorities should take whatever action is necessary to assure that all the Quara Jews reach Israel no later than the end of this year.
The JCPA urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Prime Minister – elect Ehud Barak to make the return of the Quara Jews to Israel an urgent priority.