‘Losttribes’ no­longer wel­come

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS -

IS­RAEL SHOULD amend the Law of Re­turn, which grant’s au­to­matic cit­i­zen­ship to those of Jewish an­ces­try, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Meir Sheetrit said this week.

“I want to see that [the im­mi­grant] is not a crim­i­nal, that he’s learn­ing He­brew, that he’s here for five years be­fore get­ting cit­i­zen­ship,” he told a meet­ing of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Gov­er­nors in Jerusalem.

He stressed that re­sources should be fo­cused on im­prov­ing the “mis­er­able” lives of many new im­mi­grants in­stead. And he chose to pour scorn on at­tempts to bring so-called “lost tribes”— who while not ha­lachi­cally Jewish claim they are of Jewish de­scent — to Is­rael.

“Don’t go find­ing me any lost tribes, be­cause I won’t let them in any more,” he said. “We have enough prob­lems in Is­rael. Let them go to Amer­ica.”

The Law of Re­turn, which al­lows any­one with a Jewish par­ent or grand­par­ent to move to Is­rael, came un­der scru­tiny re­cently with the ex­po­sure of a cell of neo-Nazis in the city of Pe­tah Tikva. The young group of right-wing ex­trem­ists were all from the for­mer Soviet Union, an is­sue that Mr Sheetrit re­ferred to in his speech as one rea­son to tighten up the law.

Mr Sheetrit — who was him­self born in Morocco — also claimed there were many cases of im­mi­grants il­le­gally ex­ploit­ing the swathe of ben­e­fits avail­able for those who made aliyah.

The Jewish Agency, which pro­motes and man­ages aliyah to Is­rael, was quick to dis­tance it­self from the min­is­ters com­ments and em­pha­sised that its pol­icy was still to sup­port the Law of Re­turn.

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