Smotrich: Israel must bring in as many Jews from Ukraine, Russia as possible

Religious Zionist Party MK publishes strategic plan for aliyah from Ukraine, criticizes gov’t for how it has handled the issue over past 12 days.

 BEZALEL SMOTRICH in his Knesset office this week: I have an excellent relationship with the Jewish Federations of North America, and I even have true dialogue with Reform Jews in the US. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
BEZALEL SMOTRICH in his Knesset office this week: I have an excellent relationship with the Jewish Federations of North America, and I even have true dialogue with Reform Jews in the US.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

“Representatives of the State of Israel are not inside Ukraine,” Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich said Monday. “For obvious reasons, the emissaries of the [Jewish] Agency and employees of Nativ have left Ukraine and are together with Foreign Ministry personnel mainly at the border crossings. They do not take care of rescuing Jews from the war zones and bringing them to Ukraine’s borders.”

“The stronger Jewish population has already left the borders of Ukraine,” he said. “Those who remain are mostly people with health problems, the elderly and families who do not want to stay away from the men who are committed to army recruitment.

“The people who have a close and effective connection to those who remain on ground are mainly the wonderful Chabad emissaries who give their lives, in the simplest way, to help and take care of everyone who needs it.”

Smotrich is promoting a plan he calls “No Jew is left behind.”

“There are many organizations working on the ground, but [no one] is integrating all of the work,” he said.

 Ukrainian Jewish refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport, March 6, 2022.  (credit: HADAS PARUSH) Ukrainian Jewish refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport, March 6, 2022. (credit: HADAS PARUSH)

Smotrich offered to establish a unified “war room” in the Knesset, “where all relevant organizations will sit in one room 24/7.”

The entities he would like to be part of the unified effort are “the Foreign Ministry, the Mossad, Nativ, the Jewish Agency, the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, Magen David Adom, representatives of the Red Cross in Israel, the JDC [Joint Distribution Committee] and, of course, Chabad.”

Smotrich called for creating a national aliyah program.

“The State of Israel must take advantage of the war in Europe to bring as many Jews from Ukraine and Russia to Israel as possible,” he said.

“An incentive package for absorption must be urgently formulated in strategic areas in the Negev, the Galilee, the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria,” he added.

Smotrich said his plan includes “a grant of hundreds of thousands of shekels for immigrants who purchase apartments in priority areas and state-guaranteed mortgages that the state will pay for five years.”

“As in the early 1990s [when there was a large wave of aliyah from the former Soviet Union], Religious Zionism needs to mobilize this wave of aliyah with our great spirit and capabilities,” he said.