Otniel Schneller 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hours after lawmakers blasted fellow MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) on Tuesday for comments against immigrants from the former Soviet Union, the Knesset’s Immigration Absorption Committee announced it would hold an urgent meeting on Wednesday to discuss these and similar remarks.
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Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver (Israel Beiteinu), who made aliya from Russia in 1979, and European pole vault champion Aleksandr Averbukh, who made aliya from Russia in 1999, were both expected to participate in the meeting.
Committee chairman Danny Danon (Likud) promised to hold the meeting on Sunday, after senior Treasury adviser Dr.Avi Simchon
said that non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet republics had come to Israel for economic reasons and not out of ideology.
Schneller’s comments in the Knesset plenum on Tuesday added to the discord when he said that “drunk driving did not exist here before the immigration came.”
“Cultural differences are also behavioral differences. I say at this not as a condemnation, but simply as a fact. Drunk driving did not exist in Israel in previous years. This is one of the symptoms that came with this welcomed immigration, but I do not blame them,” Schneller added during a hearing on the state budget.
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) immediately protested against Schneller’s comments.
“There has also been a rise in alcohol use and drug use, and a drop in
the average age at which youth use drugs and alcohol. I could
unscientifically explore the reasons behind those facts, but your
statement was unnecessary,” she said.
Education Committee chairman Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu), who made
aliya from Russia in 1992, also issued a statement condemning
Schneller’s statement, describing it as a “miserable comment that has
added to the bad wind that has been blowing lately against the
immigrants from the former Soviet Union.