The Ethiopian Jewish Exodus: Narratives of the Migration Journey to Israel 1977-1985

By Gadi Benezer | Go to book overview

NOTES

1

INTRODUCTION
1
If Israel can be considered part of 'the West'.
2
The terms 'migrants', 'immigrants' and 'emigrants' are often used interchangeably in the literature. The distinction is not always a straightforward one since it is often not simply a matter of 'geography' or 'intent'. I shall mainly use the term 'migrants' (which is the more inclusive). However, I shall use 'emigrants' to describe the people while they were still in their country of origin, intending to leave, and 'immigrants' (which connotes mainly a perception of these people from the point of view of the receiving society) for when they arrived in their new country. The term 'refugee' is employed in the present study, as in other studies in the field, to connote the experience of forced migration and of flight, and in its somewhat narrower usage as a legal term defined by the UN Convention of 1951, or Protocol of 1967, or by the African Unity Organisation (OAU).
3
A formal institution called the Chief Rabbinate exists in Israel, headed by an Ashkenazi and a Sephardi Chief Rabbi and by a Chief Rabbinate Council. They decide on religious matters involving both observant and non-observant Israeli Jews, notably those relating to the performance and registration of marriage and divorce. They are also involved in ruling on who is a Jew from a religious (hallachic) point of view, which is one of the important factors to be considered by the state's law when having to decide on such a matter. The conflict of this institution (and these rabbis) with Ethiopian Jews will be explained in detail below (Chapters 2 and 8).
4
The tightening of the European borders due to the policy of 'restrictionism' and the difference between European nation-states in their regulations concerning immigrants as well as asylum seekers are widely and fiercely discussed in this context (Bauman 1998; Zetter 1999b). 'Bogus' asylum seekers, who are considered as 'economic migrants', have aroused public resentment and have also served as an 'easy prey' for populist (and other) politicians. The more recent shift, however, towards opening up the borders for immigration, or rather specific immigrants, is viewed in light of two factors:
1 the low fertility rate in Western European countries (as well as Japan, incidentally) which predicts that the population of united Germany, for example, will shrink by 17 million people by the year 2040; thus there will not be enough people in Germany, Britain and other countries to carry the economic burden of the retired-over-65-year-old persons;
2 the realisation that immigrants could actually contribute and boost the economy rather than be a burden on the society. In Britain, for example, agencies are starting to look for and invite skilled workers from other countries: for

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