Home World News Israel ready to welcome Ukrainian Jews and Russian Jews

Israel ready to welcome Ukrainian Jews and Russian Jews


“We are ready to deal with the arrival of tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian immigrants” assures Yigal Palmor, spokesperson for the Jewish Agency, a semi-governmental organization responsible for Aliyah and immigration to Israel, which is not at its first attempt. The country has already acquired serious experience with more than 1.3 million immigrants from the USSR integrated during the last three decades.

With the Russo-Ukrainian war, the first requests flowed. A first contingent of 200 Ukrainians was to arrive on Sunday from Poland and Romania where they had taken refuge. More symbolic and moving: more than a hundred children from an orphanage will also be welcomed on the same day.

According to Ayeled Shaked, this is just the beginning. The Interior Minister put forward the figure of 20,000 and 30,000 Ukrainians who could arrive within two years, while ensuring that Israel is able to integrate more than 100,000. “We have received 5,000 immigration applications in recent days while this figure was only 3,100 for the whole of 2021”, says Yigal Palmor. But these departures are not painless.

Young men banned from leaving

The Ukrainian authorities prohibit the departure of men over the age of 18 likely to be conscripted to fight. Israeli television and radio have broadcast multiple testimonies of mothers with their children crossing borders in tears after having had to leave their husbands. Faced with this kind of dilemma, families who would like to immigrate prefer to stay put rather than be separated.

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The refugees are taken care of at the borders by representatives of the Jewish Agency who distribute them food, clothing, before they are transported by bus to hotels and other places of accommodation in Poland, Romania, Hungary and in Moldova. The formalities are done on site. Immigration visas to Israel are granted to all those who are eligible for the Law of Return, i.e. having a Jewish father, mother or grandparent, as well as their spouses and children. considered non-Jewish, or those who have converted to Judaism within a recognized Jewish community.

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A total of 226,000 Ukrainians fall into these categories. After ordering the expulsion of a few dozen Ukrainians who had arrived by plane by their own means, but who did not correspond to the required profile, Ayeled Shahed, under pressure from public opinion and the media, decided “ to relax the rules and show some goodwill” by accepting that these refugees stay temporarily in Israel.

“Not in camps”

Once on Israeli soil, immigrants are housed in hotels and accommodation, “not in camps” would like to highlight Yigal Palmor. They benefit from housing loans on favorable terms, can learn Hebrew for several months, receive teaching grants, and enjoy privileged tax status. In addition to this aid, there is a special allowance granted to immigrants coming from war zones in the amount of just over 4,000 euros for a family with children.

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To finance this effort, the Israeli authorities rely on their own forces, but also on the mobilization of the diaspora. Contributions are starting to arrive. Fourteen million euros have already been collected by the American Jewish community. ” It’s only a beginning “, predicts Yigal Palmor. According to the media, Russian Jews may also want to leave their country, which risks plunging into an acute economic crisis. But the Kremlin has set up a serious obstacle for all candidates to leave, whatever country they want to go to, by limiting the amount of foreign currency they are allowed to take with them to $1,000…

On the other hand, their possibilities of movement in the direction of Israel are for the moment assured: El Al, the Israeli airline, has indeed decided to continue its flights to Russia, at least for the moment.

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