A source in a major Jewish organization said on Saturday night that “there is lots of reason to be worried about the Jews of Russia and the citizens in general.”
The source related to the rebellion which took place within the Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization from Russia that was once closely associated with the Russian government during President Vladimir Putin’s tenure.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer, chairman of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, said he will convene the committee to discuss immigration from Russia to Israel in light of the recent conflict.
“The government must recalculate a course regarding immigration from Russia and not miss the opportunity for a large wave of immigration,” Forer said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the discussion will deal with the government’s preparation for the crisis “and its impact on the Jewish community and immigration to Israel.”
Forer mentioned that according to an assessment of the Foreign Affairs Ministry there are between 60,000 to 70,000 Israeli citizens currently in Russia and over 500,000 Jews entitled to the Law of Return.
Most of the Israeli citizens who are currently in Russia, if not all of them, are dual citizens and therefore, it is expected that the Israeli attitude towards them will be as such. The understanding is that most Israelis wouldn’t go to Russia as tourists or for work, rather these are people with Israeli citizenship who live in Russia.
Forer said that “after many months in which I became aware that the policy led by the government to stop aid to immigrants from Russia and reduce the rapid immigration procedure, we can understand how this was disconnected from reality. It seems that reality is shattering in the face of the Israeli government.
Emergency immigration from Russia
“At a time when the Aliyah and Integration Ministry decided to cut the budget for immigration from Russia and stop the emergency immigration procedure, harming the absorption of immigrants from there, we are now witnessing a significant worsening of the situation which requires the government to act quickly.”
It is unclear if Israel or the Jewish Agency will be able to run an express aliyah operation from Russia at this point. First of all, Russian Jews who live in Israel have said on Saturday that there aren’t any spaces on the EL AL flights from Moscow to Tel Aviv in the near future. In addition, it is unclear if the borders will be open, as well as the security situation isn’t stable.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, former Chief Rabbi of Moscow told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that he’s “concerned about the situation in Russia,” and is “praying for the safety of the Jewish community and Russian citizens.
An additional issue that many Russian speakers have realized is that there are many online antisemitic posts about the fact that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary Wagner Group company, is the son of a Jew. Prigozhin’s father, who died when he was an infant, was Jewish, as well as his stepfather who was also Jewish.