Sunday, May 18, 2008

Impact of Russian aliyah on Israel society I

To help clarify the context of the debate of conversion - primarily for Russian immigrants I will be posting excerpts from articles describing the nature of these immigrants and their position in Israeli society.

The following excerpts are from an article Israel’s Soviet Immigrants written by

Dr Neill Lochery, Director of the Centre for Israeli Studies at University College London, has been conducting research on the impact of Russian immigrants on contemporary Israeli politics. Below, he considers the degree to which they have become assimilated within Israeli society and their influence on the political agenda.


Regarding the question of who is a Jew, the arrival of the highly secular Soviet immigrants (over 65 per cent of whom claim to be non believers) has led to a crisis in establishing the criteria for who is a Jew. And, more importantly, who is not. The ultraorthodox party Shas, which has been involved in a decade-long battle with the political leadership of the Soviet immigrants for control of the Ministry of the Interior (important for the distribution of state funds), claims that many immigrants from this Aliyah are not even Jewish. This is an ongoing debate within Israel with little sign of resolution. In response, leaders such as Sharansky have called for the ultra-orthodox to do national service in the Israeli army

Like immigrant groups before them, the Soviets have had to suffer their fair share of jibes from veteran Israelis. Off the cuff comments from two serving Israeli Ministers in the Rabin administration illustrate the crux of the problem. Ora Namir labelled the Aliyah as one third prostitutes, one third social needs and one third single mother families. While Moshe Shahal characterised the group as the Aliyah of the Mafioso. To a certain extent, each Aliyah that arrived in Israel since the 1950s has faced similar comments. The Orientals were attacked for being slow and backward – but the immigrants from the FSU have faced much harsher attacks. Evidence, however, suggests that there is some truth in the thinking behind the charges that the ministers made. The vast majority of Israel’s thriving prostitution and pornography sector is run by the Soviet Mafia using girls that have entered Israel under the guise of making Aliyah – the major client base includes Arabs who cross from as far away as Amman in Jordan to have sex in the brothels of Tel Aviv and other Israel cities. Organised crime syndicates are big in Israel – the vast majority of them can be traced back either to the Soviet Union or to immigrants from the FSU either based in Israel or overseas. These groups tend to use Israel’s extremely liberal currency controls to launder money from criminal activities in the Soviet Union. There are also a number of drug cartels that use Israel either as a place for selling drugs, or as a halfway house for the export of drugs to Europe. Initially, Israeli police were slow to mount credible investigations into such activities, but recent political pressure following high profile shootings and bombings in Tel Aviv involving rival gangs have led to a more robust response from the Israeli police often working on conjunction with their Russian and Ukrainian counterparts.

1 comment :

  1. From

    (my family members in Israel verify that this is not at ALL exaggerated):

    "Israeli authorities and the Jewish Agency have been misinforming world Jewry by stating that in the State of Israel Jews can find refuge from anti-Semitism. Reports of anti-Semitic acts have turned into a regular feature in Israeli newspapers, mainly Russian-language ones. The movement “Dmir – Assistance in Absorption” has carried out an investigation of the problem and found that the scourge of anti-Semitism had penetrated the society fabric much deeper than predicted in most grim estimates. Many new immigrants have found to their horror that they encounter here in Israel the same abuses and humiliation of anti-Semitic nature on the part of non-Jews who had come together with them from the former USSR, which they hoped to be protected from in Israel. The stories related by the victims and eye-witnesses, as well as in newspaper reports, have been presented in a report on the situation in that sphere. We have repeatedly appealed to various government leaders and MKs, but received no reply. The official Israel does not dare to react to the problem. Against that background, all statements of Israeli leaders condemning anti-Semitic acts in other countries appear as pitiful affectation.

    Meanwhile, the phantasmagoria is continuing, and the number of victims of anti-Semitic acts is growing continuously. "

    "Avraham Levin, a thickly bearded man in a black kippa, was walking home through a park in Petah Tikva one night in January when he saw two boys about 15 or 16 years old with shaved heads standing nearby. He'd just finished a lesson at kollel, married men's yeshiva, when "they started laughing at me and making remarks about the 'zhids,'" he recalls. Then the boys started throwing rocks at him. He threw rocks back, until one of the boys hit a car, the driver got out, and the boys scattered. "That was just the beginning," says Levin, 38, a geriatric nurse who immigrated from Russia 12 years ago.

    A few minutes after the rock fight, Levin, limping because of a rock that hit him in the leg, had reached a main street near the Petah Tikva Central Bus Station when he heard something behind him, and saw the boys were running toward him with wooden clubs. Levin couldn't run, and the boys jumped him and began clubbing him and shouting slogans about "saving Russia from the zhids." His hand broken, he hollered for the police. People put their heads out their windows, two or three people came down into the street, and the attackers ran off again.

    This was about 11 p.m. Levin called the police on his cell phone. "They came and talked to me for a few minutes, told me I should go to the hospital, and that they would deal with the matter. They left me standing on the sidewalk, so I called a cab and went to the hospital."

    A few months later he got a call from Petah Tikva police to contact a policewoman about coming in to identify some photos of suspects. "I called the policewoman a few times, she was never there. I left messages and she never answered."


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