The Knesset State Control Committee on Monday called on the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption to relax its criteria for governmental support and allow each Aliyah organization to receive support according to the number of new immigrants they are assisting, even if that number of is low. ”Every oleh is a world unto himself. The successful absorption of a family is 100% success. Anti-Semitism can awaken at any time in any country, such as France, as can extreme instability, like in Ukraine – and the country must be prepared to absorb diaspora Jews quickly,” Committee Chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) said.
The State Comptroller`s representative at the meeting, Liora Shimoni, said the past decade has seen a strategic shift in the policy of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency, which now focuses on ”strengthening the Jewish identity of Jewish communities overseas.” Her colleague Benny Goldman said the comptroller`s report revealed differences of opinion between the Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency and showed that the ministry has provided support for the encouragement of Aliyah from the United States more than it supported similar activities in France.
MK Yoni Chetboun (HaBayit HaYehudi) said the resilience of Israeli society is a result of Aliyah. He said some 6,000 French Jews are expected to make Aliyah from France over the course of the year, ”but between 2005-2012 the Absorption Ministry preferred to invest 95% of its support money in encouraging Aliyah from the US and Britain rather than France. No Aliyah can be taken for granted, and we mustn`t say `they are making Aliyah anyway, so why invest money in it,` because the main goal is successful absorption and continued assistance for new olim.”
Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu) noted that 475 olim have arrived in Israel since the launch of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Some of the immigrants, she said, have settled in the south. ”We have not received one complaint from them. On Wednesday we will be greeting another 400 olim from France. The Nefesh B`Nefesh organization is doing a great job, and the decision to make Aliyah from the US is difficult, but we will support any organization that works to bring Jews to Eretz Yisrael. Soon we will launch a publicity campaign in towns in France`s periphery, and we will introduce to the Jews of those communities the various housing, employment and educational options they will have in Israel,” said the minister.
Immigrant Absorption Ministry Director-General Oded Forer said his office is promoting a plan to encourage Aliyah from France along with the Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod, the Prime Minister`s Office, the World Zionist Organization and others. Some NIS 17.5 million have already been allocated towards the implementation of the plan, he said, adding that the number of olim from France has increased significantly over the past few years from 1,900 a year to about 5,000. Forer said the ministry has relaxed the criteria for receiving financial support so that additional organizations, such as Bnei Akiva and Habonim-Dror, would be eligible to receive funding according to the number of people they have brought to Israel.
MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud) said that during his visits to France he noticed the ”excellent cooperation” between the Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency.