The Arab World’s Dwindling Jewish Diaspora

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A teenage Ethiopian Jew with his tahlit and teffilin, at the Beta Israel School March 14, 2003, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Israeli government airlifted more than 22,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1984. Satisfied that all qualified Jews had left Ethiopia in the airlifts, the Israeli government then closed down its offices in Addis Ababa in 1991. However, in recent years, a number of Jews who were left behind or have had children since -- up to 17,000 people -- have moved from their villages to Addis Ababa and are waiting for the Israeli government to accept them under the "Law of Return." For reasons that include a limited paper trail authenticating their Jewish identity, conversions to Christianity by grandparents, or a reluctance on the part of Israel to accept more Ethiopian refugees, these Jews have lingered around in compounds, waiting indefinitely to return to Israel.

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