September 04, 2007

Israel seeks the abolition of German Jewry

According to a Ha'aretz article, Germany is considering a formal complaint to the State of Israel over the activities of Nativ, "the Israeli government agency responsible for promoting aliyah among Jews in the former Soviet Union, to the Russian-speaking Jewish community in Germany." Apparently since the end of World War II Germany has sought to resurrect its Jewish community. Israel on the other hand, isn't so keen on a flourishing diaspora because it defeats the object of zionism. And of course, Germany was the instigator and the scene of the worse crime ever perpetrated against the Jewish people so the re-emergence of a Jewish community there is something of an embarrassment to those zionists who see their role as simply building up the Jewish presence in what we now call Israel.
Germany, which has yet to receive an official notice of the government's decision, is concerned that Nativ's operations will hamper efforts to rebuild the local Jewish community decimated during the Holocaust.

According to German figures, 206,000 Jews immigrated to Germany from the former Soviet Union between 1991 and 2006, most of who remained in Germany. Less than half of them, however, are formally involved in community activities.

All German governments since the end of World War Two have publicly supported the resurrection of Jewish life in Germany, although for some 40 years after the war only tens of thousands of Jews remained in Germany. Berlin politicians therefore view the arrival of Jews from the former Soviet Union as a one-time opportunity to breathe new life into the German Jewish community.

The federal government is providing the Jewish community with financial assistance in order to help it absorb the immigrants. Next year, that assistance is expected to grow from 3 million euro to 5 million, in addition to one-time government grants for the construction of synagogues and other community institutions.

"We are constantly trying to give the Russian Jews the feeling that they are wanted here, not as guests but as permanent residents, and we don't want to see a situation in which we are competing over them with Israel," said a German official involved in ties with the Jewish community.

Despite the fact that Germany is trying to limit immigration, Jews from the former Soviet Union are being allowed to immigrate and are entitled to undergo a fast-track naturalization process.

"These are the only immigrants we want," said a German official. "They allow us to realize our dream of rehabilitating the glorious local Jewish community."

The German government is also uncomfortable with the secret nature of Nativ's activities. Nonetheless, Germany has yet to file an official protest with the Israeli government and is instead awaiting official notice.

Senior officials in the German administration involved in contacts the local Jewish community have said in off-the-record conversations that they would have expected to learn of Israel's decision from the Israeli government, instead of being informed of it by local Jewish leaders who are exposed to the expansion of Nativ's activities.

"We would have expected different behavior from a country that has such friendly ties with us, and in any event we intend to stand by the side of our community," said one of the officials. "But of course we have no legal way of blocking [Nativ's activities]."

Charlotte Knobloch, who heads Germany's Central Council of Jews, issued a complaint over Nativ's expansion during a meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem three weeks ago.

Berlin officials in charge of ties with Israel and the Jewish community see the government's decision to expand Nativ, made roughly one month ago, as the result of political demands and deals that led Olmert to transfer Nativ to the authority of Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Wikipedia has an entry on Nativ here. Its' worth considering how Nativ differs from other groups promoting the settlement of Jews in Israel as its activities go back to the Cold War, when the free movement of Jews, or anyone else, from the then Soviet Union was extremely difficult.


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