Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Jewish Agency and Neo-Nazism in Israel

Probably you have already heard about the Israeli police busting a ring of Neo-Nazis. They were all immigrants from Russia with a very tenuous connection to their Jewish origins.
How did they arrive in Israel? I do not know them personally so I cannot say, but I did happen to witness the state of mind that has brought about this reality:

A few years ago I was working in the Jewish Agency helping to install new software. This entailed individual instruction sessions in which I got to know the Agency and its personnel very well. I was very impressed with the quality and sincerity of the people working there. But some things struck me as odd, if not actually stupid.
For instance, a major concern of the board of governors at the time was how to become cost-efficient. Management tried to think of ways to measure output. In some cases this is very difficult but in the case of the Aliyah Department there was an obvious formula : the more new olim the department brings to Israel, the more successful the department (and its head and staff...) would be considered. So the Aliyah department had a clear goal - bring more olim till the next meeting of the board of governors (when allocations are made). But by then there were not that many Jews left in Russia. The solution was simple:

find more Jews and if needed - manufacture them.
This is possible because according to Israeli law, if you have a Jewish grandparent you are considered Jewish for the purpose of immigrating to Israel, receiving many benefits and also citizenship in a modern, Western country. It's not a bad deal if you are sick of living in a backward, third world shit hole.
So the Jewish Agency's shlichim supposedly encouraged people to find out if they had any Jewish connection. They helped people with this and with the whole process. This way the number of olim remained high and even grew, as the department staff pointed out to me with unabashed pride one day.

But, as I said, I got around and soon enough I saw the other side of the equation. I was having a session with the head of a completely different department in the Jewish Agency who told me an enlightening story: the other day he saw on the street one of his
old tormentors from his hometown in Russia. This acquaintance was a violent antisemitic bully at school and he used to torture this Jew who now headed a department in the Jewish Agency. The bully smiled at his old victim and explained proudly how he discovered - with the help of the good people from the Jewish Agency- that he had a Jewish grandmother he never even heard about. They offered money and a new future in a modern country so he came...
This Department Head lamented the policy that enabled this to happen but said that he was powerless to stop it.

So when I heard about Neo-Nazis in Israel I cannot say I was surprised. The Jewish Agency has brought thousands of people to Israel who have no business being here and some of them were, and still are violently antisemitic.

I wonder if this will cause the Jewish Agency to change its aggressive aliyah policy, if it still is in place. Carl from Israel Matzav seems to think the Agency is hopeless. Go there for a good review of the situation. For some history you can read this post on the same subject - but two years old on Simply Appalling.


westbankmama said...

Just wanted to wish you a Gmar Chatima Tova.

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Ibrahimblogs said...

The post was thought-provoking. You think and write deep.

Keep it up!!

This is Ibrahim from Israeli Uncensored News

Jerusalem Joe said...

Thank you, Ibrahim - I'm glad you liked it.