Dozens of Northeast Indian Jews Arrived in Israel
29 December 2012: Fifty three people from Mizoram and Manipur States of India, who claim to be descendants of a Jewish tribe, landed at Ben Gurion airport to emigrate to Israel last Monday.
Another group of 274 is expected to arrive from India before 4 January 2013 in the Holy Land, which they claims to be their ancient homeland.
It was the first group of the Bnei Menashe from India ‘returning’ to their Promised Land after Israel recently lifted ban on the issuance of visas to them.
The Bnei Menashe, who say they are the descendants of the Israelite tribe of Menashe, were first recognized as a lost biblical Jewish family in 2005, according to sources.
It is reported that the new policy reversed by Israel would allow over 7,000 Bnei Menashe from two Northeastern states of India to move to the Middle East country.
Since 1994, over one thousand people from Mizoram and Manipur have migrated to Israel, according to reports.
However, some doubt if they are even Jewish while others speculate the move by the Israeli government might involve political aspects.
Avraham Poraz, a former interior minister, was quoted as saying the purpose was to strengthen Israel’s claims to the West Bank, where most of the new settlers are reportedly accommodated.
“They [Bnei Menashe from India] were not linked to the Jewish people,” added Avraham Poraz.
Another source quoted Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit, who was interior minister in 2007, as saying that the arrivals of the Bnei Menashe into Israel put ‘the Jewish identity of the state’ in danger.
With an estimated population of about 9,000, the Bnei Menashe are from Mizoram and Manipur States of India bordering Burma.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang