Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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23 Shevat 5765 - February 2, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











MK Gafni Defends Remarks on Forged Documents from Former Soviet Union

By Eliezer Rauchberger

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni condemned remarks made against gedolei Yisroel following statements on the numerous forged certificates of Jewish identity from former Soviet countries.

"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 time.

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.


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