MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni condemned remarks made against
gedolei Yisroel following statements on the numerous
forged certificates of Jewish identity from former Soviet
"I regret the degenerate conduct [shown by] Knesset members
who step up to the podium and speak about gedolei
Yisroel. I denounce this in the strongest terms. They do
not know what was said. This is a degeneration on the part of
Knesset members when they speak about exalted individuals and
do not even know what was said."
Rabbi Gafni went on to say that the Justice Ministry
representative offices used to operate in Moscow, Kiev and
Tbilisi to verify Jewish identity because the problem of
forged documents was common knowledge. Justice Minister Tommy
Lapid closed the offices in Moscow and Kiev, saying that
since aliyah had diminished dramatically and embassies and
consulates were being closed, the Justice Ministry should
close its offices as well.
"This means the State of Israel made it officially known that
the representative offices were being closed because aliyah
had diminished," said Rabbi Gafni. "There is no one to verify
Jewishness. Nobody. This is an official document. This was
done by Justice Minister Tommy Lapid, with whom you [MK M.
Solodkin] were in the coalition. And you talk about rabbonim.
You should talk about your government, which doesn't care
about aliyah. It doesn't care about anything. It cares only
about [Knesset] seats," Rabbi Gafni charged, waving Lapid's
orders to close the representative offices in Moscow and Kiev
— documents presented to the Knesset for the first
Rabbi Gafni's remarks came in reaction to a motion by MK
Solodkin (Likud) and statements made by other MKs.
Shas Chairman MK Eli Yishai said that when he was serving as
Interior Ministry he received "alarming figures both from
ministry employees and the Jewish Agency on a forgery
industry [in the former Soviet Union]. This is real and true.
For someone to stand up and say such a thing never occurred,
that there are no forged passports, that such things did not
take place and everything is perfectly legal — that is
a lie. It exists. And unfortunately it is getting worse." He
finished by saying he has no objection to aliyah from the
former Soviet Union as long as the immigrants are Jews.
Transportation Minister Meir Shetreet, who represented the
government in responding to the motion, claimed the State of
Israel, through authorized representatives, is performing
professional, detailed inquiries to determine the eligibility
of those applying for aliyah based on the Law of Return.
Maranan verabonon determined documents of Jewish
identity from the former Soviet Union should not be relied
upon by themselves since many of these documents are forged.
Rabbonim are instructed to conduct background checks using
every means at their disposal.