(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Despite the recent wave of violent crimes
involving suspects from the Russian-speaking immigrant community, the
overall crime rate among olim is no higher than that of the general
population, Police Southern District Commander Yohanan Danino said
at the annual Ashdod Conference on Aliya and Absorption, Danino told
those gathered that out of the 160,000 new criminal cases opened by the
police over the past year, 24,000 involved immigrants from the former
Soviet Union, Ethiopia and other areas.
This ratio, 15 percent, is not disproportionate to immigrants'
proportion of the population, he said. Figures released in recent
months by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry show that immigrants
account for some 14.5% of Israel's 7.5 million people.
However, Danino also said that the types of crimes immigrants
have committed over the past few years are much more brutal than in the
past. He was referring specifically to Andrey Lushchenko, a Ukrainian
immigrant suspected of murdering his friend and sexually assaulting his
friend's mother for a 24-hour period after the murder; and the murder
of the six-member Oshrenko family by Dimitry Olegovich Kirilik in
October, which has been described as Israel's worst murder.
Jointly organized by the ministry, the Ashdod
Municipality and Bar-Ilan University, the conference included speeches
by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, Justice Minister
Yaakov Neeman and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, as well as
discussions and panels from an array of professionals working with new
At the conference, Netanyahu highlighted that the only way
forward for Israel was to encourage aliya and the successful absorption
of new immigrants. He also emphasized the need to improve the country's
transportation infrastructure so that peripheral communities, many of
which take in new immigrants, would be better connected to the rest of
hailed the arrival of more than a million immigrants from
Russian-speaking countries, pointing out that they "saved Israel
In response, Lieberman called on the government to prioritize
the conversion issue, saying that the status quo excludes thousands of
olim from the FSU from participating in certain facets of everyday life
Meanwhile, as the conference took place Monday, hundreds of
immigrants from the local Ethiopian community gathered outside to
protest the government's failure to approve for aliya some 9,000 Falash
Mura still waiting in Ethiopia.
Braving the pouring rain, the protesters called on the
government to speed up the immigration process of the Falash Mura,
whose Jewish ancestors were forcibly converted to Christianity
While conference organizers at first refused to grant entry to
those representing the protesters, by mid-morning, Landver agreed to
meet with them.
"She told us that she felt confident that the government would
agree to bring those waiting in Gondar to Israel," Getene Awaka, a
veteran Ethiopian immigrant who lives in Ashdod, told The Jerusalem Post
. "And she said that when the decision is made, her office is ready and prepared to absorb them."
This is the third year the conference has taken place in Ashdod,
a city that is often called Israel's immigration capital. Absorbing
more than 80,000 olim in recent years, more than one-third of the
city's 225,000 residents come from the FSU, Ethiopia, France and other