A nightmare of an aliya

Swedes aliya nightmare

michael diamant 248 88 (photo credit: )
michael diamant 248 88
(photo credit: )
It's been nine months since Michael Diamant first approached the Jewish Agency about making aliya and more than two months since he actually moved here, but for the former resident of Stockholm, citizenship in the Jewish state seems more elusive than ever. At first, the odds appear to be in Diamant's favor. Born to an Israeli Jewish mother - who more than two decades ago gave up her Israeli nationality as required by Swedish law - there is no question about his Jewishness or his right to become Israeli. In addition, at 28, Diamant is young, hopeful and in two short months, has already secured himself with job in a Tel Aviv hi-tech firm. However, a series of bureaucratic screw-ups and miscommunication between the Jewish Agency, which is responsible for facilitating immigration for Jews abroad, and the Interior Ministry, which has the final say on eligibility for citizenship, seems to be at the heart of Diamant's conundrum. "It's been very humiliating," Diamant, who has been to the Interior Ministry no fewer than six times in the past two months, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "My friends in Sweden do not understand what is going on, they think there is something wrong with me." According to Diamant, however, the problem lies solely with mismanagement at the Jewish Agency operation in Stockholm, which continually lost his aliya papers and fed him incorrect information, such as an e-mail obtained by the Post urging him to simply arrive in Israel on a tourist visa and apply for citizenship at the Interior Ministry offices here. "I was told that I could apply for citizenship here, but every time I approach the Interior Ministry they tell me that papers are missing or that I need official stamps on my documents. No one in Sweden told me about that," said Diamant, who has been unable to open a bank account or rent an apartment due to the limbo in which he finds himself. "The Jewish Agency [in Stockholm] was completely disorganized; every time I called I spoke to a different person, they lost my papers twice and then told me to come here without giving me the proper information," he said. "The Jewish Agency does not divulge details of files of potential immigrants," said a spokesman for the Jewish Agency, adding, "This file is now being handled by the Ministry of Interior." Diamant said that he had no clue he was still considered Israeli after his mother had renounced her citizenship when he was a newborn, and reiterated that it was the Jewish Agency that had urged him to come here to sort out the aliya process. Indeed, the e-mail forwarded to the Post clearly shows the contradictory information he was fed before his arrival. Dated October 9, 2009, just a few weeks before Diamant was scheduled to arrive here, the e-mail from the agency's Stockholm-based Global Center states that his aliya had been "approved via the Ministry of Absorption as a foreign-born citizen," even though it is not the Immigrant Absorption Ministry that confirms such status. Later in the e-mail, Diamant is told that the approval came from the Interior Ministry. However, the accompanying document is from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and asked that he provide an Israeli ID card. The e-mail also lists the documents Diamant will need to apply for citizenship at the Interior Ministry in Israel, but nowhere does it mention that such documents need an official stamp. "It should have been such an easy process," lamented Diamant, who, after exhaustive e-mails and telephone conversations with Jewish Agency officials, is none the wiser about whether he will ever become a citizen. The Interior Ministry said it was looking into the matter.