Interior Ministry blasted for Olim policy

Aliyah officials oppose Ministry demand that new olim submit police records.

May 3, 2010 08:19
2 minute read.
Interior Ministry blasted for Olim policy

nefesh olim cool 298.175. (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)

Officials involved in aliya on Sunday blasted a new Interior Ministry policy that will demand that all prospective olim produce their police records as a condition for immigrating to Israel.

Absorption Minister Sofa Landver called the new policy “terrible,” while Jewish Agency officials called it a policy that “goes against equality and liberalism.”

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The Interior Ministry has sought ways in recent months to tighten background checks on prospective immigrants after the gruesome murder late last year of six members of the Oshrenko family of Rishon Lezion by 38-year-old Russian immigrant Damian Karlik, and the arrest a few weeks earlier of American-born alleged Jewish terrorist Yaakov Teitel.

But demanding that they produce their police records is an ineffective and unfair way of achieving that end, say critics.

“To demand police records from every prospective oleh is an unnecessary invasion of their privacy. It goes against the principles of equality and liberalism,” according to Eli Cohen, director-general of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Department.

Another Jewish Agency official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, noted that the policy was also difficult to implement.

“Not everyone can get police records. How can the Interior Ministry expect immigrants from Yemen, Iran or Ethiopia to produce their police records?” he asked.

“At the same time, you can buy whatever police records you want in many parts of the former Soviet Union. And in the United States, every state has a different process for getting these documents,” he continued.

In a statement on Sunday,  Landver complained that the new policy would give “junior state bureaucrats in former Soviet Union countries, many of whom are infected with the disease known as anti-Semitism, the ability to torment people who express their desire to come to Israel.”

She called the policy “a terrible idea, utterly disconnected from reality,” and vowed to prevent its implementation.

But according to the Interior Ministry, the new policy is necessary to keep Israelis safe.

“What we’re asking for already exists in the Law of Return, which talks specifically about olim not having criminal records,” said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad.

 “We’re not doubting the intentions of anyone who wants to come to Israel,” she added, “but we see it as a legitimate response to a series of recent events to take measures to protect the safety and security of our citizens.”

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