Nativ, the Israeli government organization that brought Russian Jews to Israel for decades beginning in the 1950's, now has its sights set on the 120,000 Russian Jews in Germany.
Nativ currently operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, of which Haggai Peleg is the Director General. Speaking with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine, Peleg denied reports that Germany is "furious" over Nativ's "attempts to encourage Aliyah [immigration to Israel] among the Jewish population of Germany."
He explained that a recent Israeli government decision calls for an expansion of Nativ's Aliyah activities into Germany, "in coordination with the German government. I hope such activity will start soon, but it has not yet started. In the meanwhile, we are engaged in educational activity among the Jews there."
The denial came in reaction to Stephan J. Kramer, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who in June sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying he would request the German governments help in preventing Israel from encouraging Jews to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) from Germany, according to Haaretz.
At that time, the Israeli government had made a decision to widen the scope of the Nativ immigration assistance program from the Former Soviet Union to include Germany as well a place where there are currently some 120,000 Russian Jews, and another 80,000 family members who are eligible for Aliyah to Israel under the Law of Return. This law stipulates that Jews and their family members - even if they are no more than 1/4 Jewish - are eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship.
The decision paved the way to open Hebrew courses and other educational initiatives to spread awareness of Aliyah as an option. Nativ targeted specifically Russian-speaking Jews, and their relatives, for Aliyah. The move to expand operations to Germany was the decision of Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also sought to expand operations to North America as well a move blocked by the Foreign Ministry.
The Jewish Agency has already been operating in Germany for years and there are already several ulpans (intensive Hebrew study programs) operating in Germany. Birthright Israel also operates there, providing both free tours of Israel for youth and the new Massa program which provides long-term study.
Currently, about 100 people make Aliyah from Germany each year. Earlier this year, Kramer boasted in an interview with Britains Daily Telegraph that Germanys renaissance has drawn more Jewish immigration than Israel. Though Germany has taken steps to restrict new immigration to Germany, Jews from the former Soviet Union actually receive preferential treatment in the naturalization process.
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Just as the Zionists understand that the continuity of their state depends on Jews coming to live there, we should understand that putting an end to the state depends on getting Jews to leave. There are many Jews who would like to leave but lack the means; helping them should be among our goals. And at least efforts should be made in countries such as Germany and countries of the FSU to strengthen existing Jewish communities so as to lessen the pressure on these Jews to move to the Zionist state.