Immigrants not overrepresented in crime, police say

Netanyahu hails the million FSU olim, saying they "saved Israel demographically."

January 26, 2010 06:36
2 minute read.
Immigrants not overrepresented in crime, police say

Danino 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])


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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 Monday.

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Speaking 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 immigrants.

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 the country.

Netanyahu hailed the arrival of more than a million immigrants from Russian-speaking countries, pointing out that they "saved Israel demographically."

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 here.

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 centuries ago.

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 nations

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