NEW DELHI, India Hundreds of Jews from India's northeast region have left for Israel in recent months in an unprecedented wave of emigration of the community, according to local media.
Known as the "Bnei Menashe" community, its members have been leaving India to settle in Israel in small numbers for years, but the trend has picked up recently.
"I will not be coming back to Manipur, because my religion means much more to me," one emigrant said, before setting off for the "Jewish homeland" created 70 years ago in Palestine.
There are about 9,000 Jews living in India's Northeast region and half of them are in the states of Manipur and Mizoram, the Indian Express newspaper reported.
"The first mass emigration took place in 2006, when 213 members of the community migrated from Mizoram, followed by a second mass emigration of 233 people from Manipur in 2007. However, the present emigration is the largest as 432 have migrated just this year -- 204 in February, followed by 228 on June 10," the report said.
The immigration practice of "making Aliyah" is being organised by the Shavei Israel group, which seeks to connect "lost" and "hidden" Jews to Israel.
More than 3,000 Jews from India have gone to Israel and thousands more are waiting to depart.
The movement for Jewish migration from India to populate Israel has been systematic and Jewish leaders have meticulously organised the conversion of would-be migrants to Judaism.
Israeli citizenship is given to these arrivals from India after they complete basic religious education, and those in the 18-25 age group are enlisted for compulsory military service.
Massive migration of Jews from Europe facilitated the creation of Israel, leading to a wave of ethnic-cleansing of Arabs by Jewish militias in Palestine.
Some seven million Palestinians -- refugees and their descendants -- trace their origins to the lands emptied of Arabs in the 1948 exodus called "Nakba" or catastrophe.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK