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6 Teves 5760 - December 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Non-Jewish Mass Immigration: A Time Bomb in Israeli Society

by Betzalel Kahn

Two weeks ago, UTJ MK Rabbi Halpert said that the massive immigration of non-Jews from the C.I.S. is a social and even a security problem. His remarks touched off a political storm.

The opponents were the usual group who look for any opportunity to attack the chareidim, and they conveniently ignored the menacing reality. The generosity of the Law of Return that openly enables many non-Jewish relatives of Jews to immigrate to Israel, coupled with the massive forgeries of birth certificates and other certificates testifying to Jewish origin, have resulted in a non-Jewish majority among the immigrants from the C.I.S. This has been true for several years, but this year even the declared non-Jewish relatives of Jews constituted a majority of the immigrants from the C.I.S. and this has drawn more reaction than usual.

The fictitious conversions in Israel only aggravate the situation. Jewish-Russian immigrants testify to harsh and shocking outbreaks of age-old antisemitism from among the non- Jewish Russians who have become Israeli citizens. The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth and the Shai organization of R' Yigal Yehudi are in the forefront of those trying to stop the dangerous tide.

Rabbi Halpert is only the most recent one to raise this sorry issue. In essence, it was the outcry of the former Absorption Minister, Rabbi Yitzchok Peretz, who warned about this trend some nine years ago in the middle of the massive immigration. In his time, he said that some 30% were not really Jewish, although the official government statistics then were only 4 percent. Rabbi Peretz was, at the time, vilified in the press for suggesting that many who came were not Jewish. Today the numbers are even greater, even according to the official statistics. They are startling.

A quarter of a million non-Jews have come, according to the admission of the Absorption Minister. The fact that the statistics are official means that the number includes only those who declared they were not Jewish upon entering.

The Knesset raged in the wake of Rabbi Halpert's remarks about the non-Jewish immigrants. The deliberation was held in the Aliya and Absorption committee of the Knesset, in the framework of a discussion initiated by Rabbi Halpert on the issue of "The High Percentage of Non-Jews Among the Immigrants." Nearly half of all of the immigrants, he said, "are not Jews, and this constitutes a national security problem of the highest degree and not a religious problem. With our own hands, we are establishing a fifth column."

A huge storm erupted, and the members of the committee, mainly those who are immigrants, demanded that he retract his statement implying that they are not loyal citizens. But Rabbi Halpert refused, and even continued: "Negative elements have infiltrated among the immigrants. Don't you know how many spies from the C.I.S have been apprehended? Don't you know? Isn't that a fifth column? I won't retract my statements."

Rabbi Halpert added that just on his way to the committee meeting, he received a phone call in which he was told that Shi'ite Moslems from Azerbaijan are immigrating to Israel pretending to be Jews.

Absorption Minister Yuli Tamir said in response: "Rabbi Halpert's immunity must be removed so that we can try him for incitement." Knesset members from all of the parties representing immigrants from the C.I.S met in the Knesset with representatives of C.I.S immigrant organizations a few days later, and took up Tamir's battle cry. They announced: "We will do all in our power to remove the immunity of Rabbi Halpert, so that he can be brought to justice for his incitement." A group of Knesset members also proposed that he be dismissed from his seat on the Knesset's Education and Absorption Committee.

But Rabbi Halpert spoke the statistical truth. The use of the expression "fifth column" is what aroused the ire. The truth, though, is that hundreds of thousands of non- Jews are flooding the entire country, and they are truly causing destruction and ruin in many places. It is enough to mention the hundreds of stores for the sale of pork in cities where Russian immigrants are concentrated. Who, if not the non-Jewish immigrants, brought this scourge to the country?

Reader's Digest published a study eight years ago that claimed that the Soviet government purposely sent criminal elements to Israel with forged Jewish identity papers in order to rid themselves of these undesirables, and to undermine the Israeli economy and society.

50% of the Immigrants are Non-Jewish

Confirmation of the remarks made about the non-Jewish immigrants was presented by Interior Minister Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet refusenik who is now the head of the Yisrael Ba'Aliya party. He said that from 1990 to 1998, 208,000 immigrants who are halachically non-Jewish immigrated to Israel from the C.I.S. This amount constitutes 24.7% of the overall amount of immigrants from the C.I.S during that period.

In recent years, though, the percentage of non-Jews among the immigrants has risen, and in 1999 it was more than 50%.

A report which appeared last week in Ha'aretz related that according to the head of the Conversion Administration of the Chief Rabbinate, Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, 9,000 people have "converted" in the country since the establishment of the Administration. Many of them, he says, are not immigrants from the C.I.S, but rather Ethiopians, mainly from the Falash- Mura who are suspected of being Christians. As a result of the cloud that hangs over them, they are more willing than other Ethiopians to accept the conversion conditions of the Rabbinate, if only they will be recognized as Jews. Out of 2500 converts this year, 1300 are Ethiopians.

An additional, interesting statistic is that a decisive majority (85%) of the non-Ethiopian converts are women. Apparently , this is because women feel that it is important to convert so that their children will be recognized as Jews according to the halocho. It is also said that 455 adopted children were "converted" over the past four years, and 3500 minors were "converted" during that period, most of them, presumably, along with their parents(???).

The Truth!

But these aren't really the true statistics. Natan Sharansky is trying to conceal the truth. Yated Ne'eman is publishing them here.

This information is based on studies, information, reports and extensive examinations conducted by the members of the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur. The numbers which Sharansky cited are already quite startling to many, but they are based on the official statements of the immigrants themselves and do not take into consideration the forgeries and the various means of deceit. It is well known that the Russian government apparatus is barely functioning, and people are willing to be bribed for small amounts.

The true information is even more worrisome:

The number of non-Jews who have arrived in Israel from 1990 up until the end of 1998 is really 350,000. This constitutes a full 40% of the 875,000 immigrants who arrived during those years.

In practical terms it is even worse. The Vaad HaRabbonim notes that the Jews who come tend to be older, and many of them are past the age of setting up a family. Among those who come here young enough to marry and raise a family, the proportion of those who are not Jewish is even higher. Therefore, even though the overall proportion of non-Jews in the past ten years is about 40%, the percentage of non-Jews among the immigrants of marriageable age in that period is a full 75 percent!

Moreover, the percentage of non-Jews arriving each year, to our great dismay, has been increasing from year to year and now, in `99, over 80% of the immigrants from the C.I.S are truly non-Jews. Much of this is accounted for by the fact that the immigrants arriving now tend to be younger, and among the younger immigrants, as we said, the proportion was always around this figure.

According to a survey which the Vaad took three years ago in conjunction with a senior professor in Bar Ilan University, every year 3000 couples in which at least one spouse is non- Jewish marry in the Rabbinate. According to the Vaad, the number for 1999 is 5000 couples of that sort!

These statistics are based on an extensive study which the Vaad conducted which includes official and nonofficial information. One piece of important information the official statistic of the Interior Ministry which states: Last year (1998) 38,449 couples were married via "religious institutions" and only 240 couples (less than 1% of the entire amount) registered in the Interior Ministry as having married within a purely civil framework (such as Paraguay which allows marriage through the mail -- for a fee of course).

This piece of information, say the heads of the Vaad, clearly shows the seriousness of the situation, in which thousands of non-Jews in Israel have managed to register for religious Jewish marriages by means of the official Israeli marriage registrars. It must be understood that having been married by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, and having the marriage certificate that shows this, is tantamount to having an official certification by the Rabbinate of the Jewishness of both spouses.

The Vaad HaRabbonim notes the inefficacy of the Chief Rabbinate in handling this serious situation, which results in a massive penetration of some 5000 mixed couples every year into the Jewish Nation, right here in Israel. In the past, the Rabbinate issued clear directives on the matter, stating: "One may not conduct a marriage ceremony for a new immigrant who arrived in Israel after 1990, without a certificate testifying to his Jewish origin."

According to those directives, this certification can only be given by a regional rabbinical court or by a special committee whose purpose is to investigate such matters which will be established by the Council of the Chief Rabbinate. These directives also state that only a rabbi who was authorized to conduct such investigations by the Council can serve on this investigating committee. But since this committee still hasn't been established, the only place where one can receive certification attesting to one's Jewish origins is from the Chief Rabbinate, by means of the local beis din or two special botei din that were set up to investigate people's Jewishness. The beis din of HaRav Avrohom Dov Levin has been praised for its expertise in the area of birur Yahadus.

In every instance in which a couple which made aliya to Israel after 1990 comes to register for marriage, the marriage registrar is supposed to refer the immigrant partner for certification to the authorized rabbinical court nearest the place of registration.

Despite this guideline, no steps have been taken against the marriage registrars throughout the country who continue to ignore these directives, as they daily register new, non- Jewish immigrants without knowing anything about their Jewish origins. The offices of the Vaad HaRabbonim contain scores of affidavits of various rabbis and registrars who have approved the Jewish origin of those whose Jewishness is in doubt. According to the Vaad's spokesman, the Chief Rabbinate is doing nothing to enforce its guidelines and, as a result, thousands of non-Jews marry Jews every year, with the approval of the rabbinate.

Another very disconcerting fact is that no list of non-Jewish immigrants exists. A computerized list of about 300,000 non- Jews could easily be assembled and made available to assist marriage registrars and the botei din. The Chief Rabbinate informed the Vaad several years ago that such a list was in preparation, but unfortunately to date it does not yet exist. The Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry have a list of over 200,000 names of non-Jewish immigrants which can legally be made available to the Chief Rabbinate, but as of last week, a top ranking official in the Foreign Affairs Ministry told a representative of the Vaad that the Rabbinate never asked the Interior Ministry or the Foreign Affairs Ministry for a list of non-Jews living in Israel, something which would greatly facilitate the preparation of a list of non-Jews who are forbidden to marry regular Jews.

A Steep Rise in Conversions

How many non-Jews are converted in Israel every year?

The director of the rabbinical courts, Eli Ben Dahan, recently said that 10,000 non-Jews "converted" over the past four years, while this year alone a total of 3500 converted. Most of these conversions were not valid according to halacha. The majority of these so-called converts did not obligate themselves to observe the mitzvos which, as is well known, invalidates a conversion even bedi'eved.

The Vaad HaRabbonim warns about new plans announced to establish conversion courts within the rabbinical court system and thereby to eliminate the Conversion Administration. This plan will only result in a wholesale conversion system in Israel. These "conversions" will be conducted by the special conversion courts which will be manned by rabbis willing to conduct wholesale conversion, chosen for this willingness due to the fact that the permanent rabbinical courts are not willing to do so.

The Vaad said that this plan, which entrusts the conversion process to elements that do not abide by the halocho, must be strongly opposed and conversions must be entrusted only to the permanent and prominent rabbinical courts which are manned by talmidei chachomim and yirei Shomayim. Last week Minister Melchior, the chairman of the Knesset Conversion Committee, announced that he hopes that in the year 2000 he will be operating over 100 conversion ulpanim, and perform 20,000 "conversions."

How Many Came?

Let us return to the grim statistics regarding the numbers of non-Jews from the immigrants. In the official data we have been shown that in the first two months of this past year there were 11,751 immigrants, 43% of whom were Jews, and 56% of whom were non-Jews. In `98, 54 thousand immigrants came to Israel, 57% of whom were Jews, and 42% non-Jews. In `97 there were 65 thousand immigrants, 61% of whom were Jews, and 38% non-Jews, and the numbers change from year to year.

In the 80's the percentage of non-Jews who immigrated to Israel was 7%. Then beginning in 91, the numbers have risen from year to year. Already in `91, the percentage of non-Jews among the immigrants was 13%; in 92, 19%; in 93- 21%; in 94 and in 95, 28%; in `96 -- 32%; and so on, getting worse and worse.

Who caused this? Who is to blame? Who lends his hand to so serious a trend? Who will bear the responsibility on the day the Russians demand that a "Russian autonomy" be established in Israel (an idea already raised by a number of publicity men in the Russian newspapers)?

It is no secret that the chairman of the Israel Ba'Aliya, Natan Sharansky, who is currently the Interior Minister, helped bring hundreds of thousands of non-Jews to Israel. Just leafing through the headlines of the newspapers during recent months, since Sharansky assumed his post, it is possible to understand the immensity of his desire to bring more and more non-Jews to Israel in order to strengthen his power as the chairman of the immigrants' party. Who knows, perhaps in a number of years, he'll also run for Prime Minister?


An example of this desire is the fact that the Interior Minster decided that his office cannot expel immigrants, even if it is clear that they came under false pretenses. The authority for expulsion in such cases will henceforth be transferred to an external committee or a judicial committee. It is clear that the decision on this matter will not harm the Russian immigration. The opposite is true, and the press crowned Sharansky's step in the headlines: "That's Why They Wanted Nash Control [Note: This was the way they referred to their control over the Interior Ministry during the election campaign]." Another serious decision made by Sharansky on the issue of the non-Jewish immigrants is the facilitation of the receipt of citizenship for whoever was married in Israel. In addition, these potential citizens will receive medical insurance immediately.

The opposition of various elements to granting legitimization to immigrants who arrive in Israel by deceit, does not frighten Sharansky. He attacks those opponents, and it helps him with his constituency.

The Russian Press

The Russian press is divided on this issue. Some of the journalists and newspapers are fervently in favor of the continuation of non-Jewish immigration to Israel, while others attack this. The Hebrew Israeli press, it must be noted, deliberately ignores the situation, with very few exceptions. Following is one example:

Asaf Tapiro is a reporter in a local newspaper in Beit Shemesh. He recently published three articles about the immigration of non-Jews from Russia under the heading: "Madness: Israel Imports Antisemites and Nazis." The inevitable outcome of this series was: threats on his life by non-Jewish immigrants in Beit Shemesh, which even bordered on violent behavior. The police did very little to protect the brave journalist from those violent, non-Jewish Russian immigrants.

In this series of articles, a Jew named Yochanan (a Russian immigrant) was interviewed. Along with Yigal Yehudi, the chairman of the Shai organization (for the preservation of the Jewish identity of the state), he described the painful situation. Yochanan reported, among other things, about a family living in the Givat Sharet neighborhood in Beit Shemesh, with an antisemitic neighbor. "He's a drunkard, and when he drinks people are afraid of him, and they keep away from him. The neighbors know about this, but are afraid to complain to the police." Yochanan claims that this is only one of many cases, and that in every neighborhood where there are Russian immigrants, many cases like this may be found.

The largest Israeli Russian language paper Vesti, recently published an article by Shlomo Gorman whom Yigal Yehudi describes as, "A brave journalist who writes on a regular basis about the problem of the importation of non<196>Jews from the C.I.S." The title of the article is: "Mixed Aliya," and under the title there is a large photograph of graffiti scrawled on the wall in Ashkelon, which read: "Smit Jidem" (Death to the Jews). Beside it is a large swastika.

Shlomo Gorman writes: "This is a serious problem, delicate to describe too explicitly due to the sensitivity of the affair. This is the problem of the importation of antisemitism into Israel. On a bus ride, or a walk in one of the immigrant neighborhoods in the country's various cities, one frequently hears negative slurs against the Jewish Nation. These slurs are often loaded with rolling Russian curses (sometimes with Ukrainian seasoning)."

"Avowed Jew Haters"

"How do avowed Jew-haters arrive here? We would like to believe that the majority of this type do not come from the immigrant circles, but rather from workers and tourists who have come here for a specific amount of time, and in the end will return to the places where antisemitism will continue to exist even after no more Jews remain there. However, a certain amount of the antisemites in the country have Israeli citizenship. It is quite possible too, that they are even listed on their identity cards as Jews; acquiring affidavits of Jewishness in the C.I.S depends on the aliya candidate's resourcefulness and ability to pay. Others who are registered as Russians or Christians arrived in Israel as a result of the shortcomings and anachronisms of the Law of Return, which enables both Jews and those who are not themselves children of Jewish parents to bring a dozen people to the country."

These are harsh words. It is difficult to find such courageous journalists in the Russian press.

Gorman adds: "The Jewish Agency shlichim place announcements in the papers which include transparent hints such as: `We remind you, that not only the children of Jews are eligible for aliya, but also the grandchildren of Jews.' This issue, it should be noted, was recently raised at a discussion in the Absorption Committee. These ads were shown to the representatives of the Jewish Agency who tried, without much success, to deny that they are the ones who circulate those notices throughout the C.I.S. One of the top officials in the Jewish Agency even claimed that this was provocation of chareidim, and that the Jewish Agency has no connection to these announcements."

Antisemitism at its Best

The antisemitism of the non-Jewish Russian immigrants doesn't stop. Arnold Bodinksi, a Jewish Russian immigrant, relates; "In '94 I registered in an Ulpan. 80% of the participants in the course were not Jewish. I joined a group that had already been in session for a month. One day during recess, I saw a young Jewish woman crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she said: `I came to the group today, and I came yesterday. I entered the classroom and heard: `Here's a another Zhidovchek.' I fled Russia because of that. And now it's happening all over again."

Antisemitism is not only continuing, but is also increasing. An Israeli Russian language newspaper, Ruski Izraelitianin, which serves as a permanent platform for the most militant kinds of attacks against Judaism, recently published an article about the problem of the water. It says: "The rise in the cost of water is liable to lead to drastic changes in the odors in the buses, in various institutions and public places. Putting it simply, the Jewish nation will smell far worse than it does today."

A Rise in Crime

The socioeconomic profile of the non-Jewish immigrants is different -- and lower -- than that of the Jewish immigrants and the general Jewish population.

First, the general statistics. Since separate figures are not kept for Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants, we must first consider the overall figures.

20% of the immigrant youth are not registered in schools or other learning institutions, as opposed to 11% of all Israeli youths between the ages of 13-18. In '94, 7.3% of the youth among the immigrants from the C.I.S used drugs regularly, in `95, the amount reached 13.6%, and in `96, it was 22.8%. This means that every year there has been an 80% increase in this area.

An additional statistic points to the seriousness of the situation: 24% of the youngsters who are in closed institutions for juvenile delinquents are Russian immigrants. 58% of those who turn to the Elem consultation center in Tel Aviv, which deals with problematic youth, are Russian. Already in '95, 29% of the youngsters from the C.I.S were unemployed and not studying. "In `99, the situation hasn't improved," says Mrs. Paulina Slenik, the coordinator of Elem. "This community is degenerating. Not only are the numbers terrifying, but so is the fact that those with influence in these circles deny the truth."

And now to the main question: Who are the imported juvenile delinquents? It is clear that they are non-Jews in disproportionate numbers. According to the findings cited earlier, of the Vaad, that the proportion of non-Jews among the younger immigrants is much higher than in the overall population, that would certainly apply to these figures, if the proportions among the problematic youth is the same as for the overall population. The data of the Israeli Central Office for Statistics concerning the age groups and the origin of the immigrants based on the official numbers, along with the tremendous amount of forgeries of Jewish identity certificates, indicates that the non-Jews constitute the overall majority in these age groups in general. It seems clear that they provide the terrifying statistics, and the anecdotal impression of those in the area is that they are the overwhelming majority of those troubled.

A Free Hand

Shai notes that in the 70s, when the arrivals were almost all Jewish, 200 thousand immigrants from the Soviet Union also suffered absorption crises. But there was no rise in juvenile delinquency from that wave of immigration. "Now many gentiles arrive, while the influential circles -- the Russian political parties -- are just interested in bringing in as many ethnic Russians as possible to increase their constituency, in order to have more political power. The heads of the political system who are interested in the support of those parties and many who like the fact that the Russian immigrants support the secularization of Israel (non- Jews are an unlikely support for retaining the Jewish character of Israel) also encourage the importation of non- Jews. Meanwhile, society is sinking in the abyss of crime," Yigal Yehudi says.

A substantial amount of the non-Jewish immigrants are open and observant Christians. The number of Christians among the immigrants is very high. "90% of my customers were new immigrants," the owner of a stand in Haifa who sells items for the Christian new year, told Ma'ariv a number of years ago.

"Many new immigrants who come here attend church and celebrate the Christian holidays, though some do so in secret," the owner of the stall related. This is aside from the hundreds of pork stores in the immigrant centers in the country, and the many churches which are cropping up in neighborhoods all over the country, most of them in private apartments. Some of the non-Jewish Russian youngsters vandalize shuls and attack religious Jews and everything which is related to Judaism, in ways that anti- religious Jews never did.

The madness, as the members of the Shai organization call it, is very serious. This is a time bomb which is about to explode. It must be dismantled as soon as possible.

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