Israel needs to adopt a modern definition of ‘Jew’ to stop immigration fraud

Who is considered a Jew? This argument about the correct definition of a Jew continues to this day and will probably not be resolved in the near future.

One thing is clear: Israel needs to adopt a clearer and more relevant definition. A Jew is not just someone who the law defines as such. Those who wish to be Jewish and link their destiny with the Jew should be welcomed here.

A young man who emigrates to Israel through the Law of Return, which gives Jews the right to live in Israel and obtain citizenship, enlists in the IDF, and connects with the people of Israel is Jewish, even if he is not Jewish. according to Halacha. His conversion should be sped up, as there are enough rabbis who would convert him without all the bureaucratic hurdles that those currently in charge of the process put up.

But the point is that before defining who is Jewish, we must first define who is not.

A classified report recently released by the National Security Council (NSC) said that some 10,000 Ethiopians currently trying to leave the war-torn country for Israel are not Jewish, according to the rules of the Law of Return. However, they apparently identify with Messianic Judaism, a modern religious movement that combines elements of the Jewish tradition with Evangelical Christianity.

The elders of Israel’s Ethiopian community have said for years that most of those who are trying to make Aliyah from Ethiopia to Israel are not Jews and are simply participating in immigration fraud. But if the majority is not Jewish, then the minority is and they deserve to emigrate to Israel.

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Protesters for the elevation of Ethiopian Jews

Families of Jews Stranded in Ethiopia Ask Government to Bring Loved Ones to Israel in August 2021

(Photo: Amit Shaabi)

As for Messianic Judaism, it is nothing new. Many of those who identify with the religion made Aliyah to Israel under the Law of Entry into Israel and not according to the Law of Return. They continue to attend churches here, and they don’t even keep up appearances as if they are Jews.

Many of the non-Jews make their way to Israel through the Law of Return or otherwise. They convert to Judaism, they work here, they join the IDF, but the problem persists.

The 10,000 who are said to be waiting to make Aliyah are now a temporary number. Once they arrive, there will be another 10,000 and so on, one fraud leads to another.

That is because those who hope to make Aliyah can always claim to be related to those who migrated in the last wave, which could be true, and those who come after them will claim to be related to those who came earlier in the wave. This will only end if the Israeli government listens to community leaders and ends the chain of this immigration fraud.

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The ceremony at the KnessetThe ceremony at the Knesset

A ceremony at the Knesset to mark 30 years since Operation Solomon, which was a covert Israeli military operation to airlift Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

(Photo: Knesset TV channel)

Community leaders have warned on this issue for years, but somehow, once some of them enter politics, they change their minds. This happens because the balance is shifting, the original Jewish community becomes a minority and the center of political power shifts to those who are, at best, third-degree relatives of “real” Jews, weakening the voices of the previous generation.

As the Israeli government continues to succumb to pressure, there will be more and more non-Jews in the country, which in turn will create pressure to let in more non-Jews.

On Monday I heard a speech from former Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who said that everyone who was eligible to make Aliyah had already done so. “We will never end that,” he said, adding that the spiritual leaders of Ethiopian Jews in Israel begged him to stop the wave of immigration from Ethiopia because it has become a fraud.

The question is how many more fraud must be committed for the Israeli government to defend itself.

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