About 8,000 Ethiopian Jews want to move to Israel and join their families already living there. But they accuse the Israeli government of delaying their immigration for racist reasons, accusations the government denies. Linda Gradstein has more from Jerusalem.
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an emotional scene in Israel's ben-gurion airport as Girma desi embraces his mother for the first time in seven years his mother arrived after finally receiving permission to immigrate to Israel from Ethiopia vanellope made the unofficial name I immigrated seven years ago and I was alone but now finally thank God I am NOT alone anymore here my mother is coming and it's very emotional for me Dessie says all of the Jews still in Ethiopia should be allowed to come to Israel Zelo ricany yes it's not just me there are a lot of families where some move to Israel and some stayed behind we don't know why for many cases one brother comes to Israel and the other has to wait 15 and 20 years we ask why and the government says wait many Ethiopian Jewish families are still split some here and some still waiting to come Yahya workö came to Israel by himself fifteen years ago followed two years later by his mother they prepare Ethiopian food in the immigrant housing center near Jerusalem where they've lived since their arrival I would almost say I'm addicted oh my god I decided to 9 months after I moved to Israel my daughter died I feel like I abandoned her because they didn't let us come together one of my daughters has been waiting 22 years to come to Israel why are they doing this maybe it's racism I really don't know Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's government dismisses these accusations saying Ethiopians are treated as equal citizens the government claims there is simply not enough money in the budget to provide the services the new immigrants need this claim is rejected by the Ethiopian Israeli community of a hundred and forty thousand which is getting increasingly angry at the government's policy says pro Ethiopian activist ELISA Bodnar the government in 2015 made a unanimous decision to bring the remaining Jews of Ethiopia to Israel and until now has not fully implemented this decision and today the family members have decided that it is enough that their lives are are worth just as much as any other lives here in Israel besides family reunification Ethiopians have staged demonstrations against police brutality which they believe they suffer from disproportionately overall they complain they are treated as second-class citizens in Israel says shlomit papaya of the association of Ethiopian Jews I'm sorry Vova acolytes yo Pete Munchen che Hilo shallots welcome I think most of the Ethiopian community feels we don't get equal rights even though we have equal responsibilities we pay taxes we serve in the army when it comes to rights we face a lot of problems at the commercial muta'ali despite the problems Ethiopian Jews are still clamoring to come to Israel and be reunited with their loved ones Linda Gradstein for VOA news Jerusalem