United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Shmuel Halpert has warned that non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union are a fifth column against the state and pose a national-security problem.
"There are negative elements among these people, including those who are spies," he said. "We are creating a fifth column among us.
"The high percentage of non-Jews among the immigrants from the CIS constitutes a national and security problem of the highest degree, and not only a religious problem," he warned.
He stressed: "This is not only a problem of the religious or chareidi sector of the state, but also the problem of every Jew who lives here and is concerned about the future of his children."
He pointed out that precisely those Jewish groups who support withdrawal from the territories in order to prevent our state from becoming a dual-nationality shared with the Palestinians, are those who preach dual-nationality with non- Jews from the CIS.
When he called the large group of non-Jewish immigrants "fifth column," a storm erupted.
MKs Vilan (Meretz) and Landber (One Israel) as well as the chairman of the committee, Naomi Blumenthal (Likud) asked Rabbi Halpert to retract the expression "fifth column," but Rabbi Halpert refused.
Indeed, not only did Rabbi Halpert refuse to retract his words, but he also added that he had information about thousands of Moslem Shiite immigrants who arrive in Israel from Azerbeijan disguised as Jews.
He also said that the fact that many spies were found among the immigrants from the CIS proves that he is right about the "fifth column."
In the meeting, Rabbi Halpert accused the Jewish Agency of encouraging non-Jews to immigrate by publishing ads in the CIS calling on all people with a Jewish grandparent to come to Israel. He said he has submitted a bill to amend the Law of Return and only enable people with Jewish mothers to immigrate.
"Half or more than half of immigrants coming now from the former Soviet Union are non-Jews." Rabbi Halpert said, adding that his estimate is based on a report from the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Jewish Agency treasurer, Chaim Chessler denied that the Jewish Agency had circulated the notice, and claimed that the immigration policy of the Jewish Agency is based on the laws of the State of Israel.
He later ordered the agency to freeze all direct and indirect funding to institutions connected with United Torah Judaism while it reviews the situation and waits for Halpert to retract his statement. Yisrael Ba'aliya Yuli Edelstein, a former absorption minister, acknowledged that there are indeed "very many non-Jews immigrating from the Soviet Union." However, he said it has to be examined whether these non-Jews are coming as part of mixed marriages, in which case families can't be separated, or whether there are people exploiting the liberal Law of Return to obtain benefits.
Committee chairwoman Naomi Blumenthal (Likud) agreed with Rabbi Halpert regarding the urgency of the problem of the many non-Jewish immigrants, and said that it is impossible to ignore it.
Yitzchak Galgola (Shas) also supported Rabbi Halpert, and said that many non-Jewish immigrants who have arrived in Israel have brought with them antisemitic behavior such as the desecration of mezuzos and sifrei Torah.
Batya Carmon, the head Visa and Foreigners department of the Interior Ministry said that the thousands who arrive in Israel from the CIS come on "borrowed identities or by means of forged documents or fictitious marriages.
"Only a very few of these cases are discovered, and by chance," she said.
She also said that there is an entire industry for forged certificates, and that the police claim that they can't grapple with this serious problem.