Sheetrit may deport alleged neo-Nazis

Interior minister exploring possibility of revoking citizenships of 8 suspects nabbed in Petah Tikva.

September 9, 2007 00:36
3 minute read.
Sheetrit may deport alleged neo-Nazis

nazi idf rifle 224.88. (photo credit: Israel Police)


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Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit on Sunday led a chorus of voices calling for legal action to revoke the citizenship of a group of neo-Nazis who immigrated here under the Law of Return. A possible amendment of that law and others to prevent the emergence of similar groups is also being considered. Eight of the suspected members of a Petah Tikva-based neo-Nazi group were brought to the Ramle Magistrate's Court for remand extensions Sunday. Knesset members expressed anger and began to discuss ways of closing legislative loopholes that do not prevent the existence of such groups. The suspects, including alleged ringleader Eli "Eli the Nazi" Boanitov, were brought to court, protesting their innocence. The remands of the suspects were extended until Tuesday. Outside the courtroom, Boanitov's mother said her son had done no wrong and was a victim of persecution of Russian immigrants. Sheetrit said he would consider revoking the citizenship of members of the ring, all of whom immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union as children. "I intend to explore whether there is a legal possibility to revoke their citizenship and throw them out of the country," Sheetrit said. "If there is such a possibility I will not hesitate to do so." "Whoever believes in the Nazi dogma has no place in the State of Israel," he added. MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) is expected to present the Knesset plenum with a bill calling to revoke the suspects' citizenship. MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP) said he would present the plenum with a recommendation to amend the Law of Return. According to Eitam, people who harbored a hatred of Jews and a hatred of Israel in their hearts find a safe haven in Israel by taking advantage of a loophole in the Law of Return. In the past, NU-NRP members have tried to advance bills that would revoke parts of the Law of Return but have failed. The Law of Return, which states that one only has to have one Jewish grandparent to immigrate as a Jew, has allowed thousands of non-halachicly Jewish descendants of Jews to immigrate to Israel with the same benefits as Jewish immigrants. Cabinet members on Sunday viewed videos presented by police that showed the alleged gang members, faces covered, kicking and punching helpless citizens, as well as posing with IDF-issued weapons and displaying "heil Hitler"-style salutes. "I am confident that no one in Israel has remained indifferent to the images, which can attest to a failure on our part in educating our youth and keeping them away from disturbed and dangerous ideologies," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said following the video presentation. "We must handle them…with the utmost severity," he said. "What we are talking about is shocking, senseless violence. We must create a deterrence to ensure that such incidents do not recur." Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said, "These people are not fit to be called people. They are a cancer." He said the neo-Nazis' citizenship should be revoked. In addition to the voices advocating a reexamination of the Law of Return, through which all of the suspects except for one entered Israel and were granted citizenship, community activists and police called on MKs to tighten laws against neo-Nazism. Israel's current legislation, which is much less stringent than laws in many European countries, does not place limitations on possession of neo-Nazi paraphernalia. It merely prohibits propagation of neo-Nazi views via the Internet. It is only on this charge, as well as the attacks of which they are suspected - and not on a charge of belonging to a neo-Nazi group - that the suspects are being held. The group is suspected in a number of attacks, including synagogue desecrations and brutal beatings in the central part of the country. Nahum Taub, a sexton (gabbai) of Petah Tikva's central synagogue, Beit Ya'acov, which the gang allegedly spray-painted with swastikas and crosses a year and a half ago on Independence Day, on Sunday said he was personally attacked by two skinheads about two months ago. "It was a Friday afternoon and I was on my way to the market," Taub said. "Suddenly these two teenagers came up to me and screamed, 'Heil Hitler.' They tried to hurt me but they were drunk and I just pushed them away." Taub, who grew up in Brooklyn, said he has never felt threatened or afraid while walking the streets of Petah Tikva. Asked if the skinheads of Petah Tikva were capable of committing murder, Taub answered, "Maybe, only God knows." Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this story. •

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