60% of the people who immigrated to Israel from the former
Soviet Union in the year 2000 are not Jewish. This startling
statistic emerged from statements made at a recent press
conference by Minister Michael Melchior. Melchior proposed an
alternative to Prime Minster Barak's "civil revolution." His
proposal, however, is not much better.
While proposing an amendment to the Law of Return at a press
conference, Melchior proposed cancellation of the "grandchild
clause" in the Law of Return which enables a Jew's third-
degree relatives to become olim.
Melchior said that although his plan does not conflict with
Barak's, it is more "balanced." He stressed that his Meimad
party would not support an unbalanced program whose sole
purpose is to twist the arms of the chareidi religious
populations. He also criticized the plan to operate El Al on
Shabbos a few weeks prior to its privatization, calling this
Melchior says that he opposes commercial activity on Shabbos;
however he does not oppose the Shabbos opening of
entertainment concerns. He proposed that Sunday be declared
the official day of rest, as in Europe and the United States.
Melchior noted that the Shabbos opening of shopping centers
causes social injustice, because those who work on Shabbos
are mainly Arabs, Russian immigrants and people from the
lower socio-economic levels.
Minister Melchior attacked the Prime Minister, saying that
the manner in which Barak presented his plan to the public
was a cause of distress in the religious-traditional sector.
Among other things, Melchior suggests setting up an alternate
course for marriage: the registration of "couples." He also
said that a constitution should be enacted only after broad
public deliberation on the issues with participation of all
sectors of society.
A danger in Melchior's plan is his suggestion that the study
of the Jewish and democratic values be stressed in all Jewish
educational systems, including Torah systems. The curriculum
will include compulsory civic studies, masked in a sinuous
manner as "Jewish heritage, the history of the Jewish Nation
and the State of Israel, and Holocaust and heroism
awareness." The subsidy of educational institutions, he says,
will proceed according to overt, equal criteria.
According to Melchior's plan, the entry on identity cards for
nationality and religion will be deleted. He suggests that
these be replaced by, "declared nationality" and "declared
religion." Even first degree non-Jewish relatives of one who
receives an immigration permit by dint of conversion will not
automatically be eligible for aliyah under the Law of
Return. He proposes that whenever a resident is listed as
having undergone conversion -- in any framework whatsoever,
either in Israel or abroad -- his conversion certificate be
presented to the Census Bureau as a separate attachment. This
proposal will enable the heretical movements to officially
penetrate the Jewish Nation.