As Russia continues to crack down on its citizens and restrict personal freedoms, fear is growing that it may be preparing to ban immigration to Israel, Yediot Achranot reported.
The report quoted immigration activist Alex Rif as saying that recent demands by Moscow could be the first step in ending Russian Jewish immigration to Israel.
Earlier this month, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Russian government ordered the Jewish Agency to halt all activities inside the country. Although the Agency later denied it was being forced to shut down, saying that the government “merely” noted the Agency’s “administrative issues” that could have “possible legal consequences,” it is apparent that the “legal consequences” could make it impossible for the Agency to operate in Israel.
Another Post report last week quoted the Moscow Times as saying that Russia has
broadened its description of “foreign agents” to include “those who take part in any activity that authorities determine goes against Russia’s national interests or who receive support of any kind, not just money, from abroad.”
The “broadened” definition means that representatives of the Jewish Agency or any Jewish organization in Russia for that matter can be classified as “foreign agents.”
The new law says that “anyone who has worked with a ‘foreign agent’ or received funding from one will be included in a new Justice Ministry list of people and groups ‘affiliated with foreign agents.'”
The report quoted a senior Israeli diplomatic official as saying that “Russia has claimed that the Jewish Agency illegally collected information about Russian citizens.”
A letter sent to the Jewish Agency last week by Russia’s Justice Ministry accused the Agency of violating Russian law by sharing the names of Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel with its offices in Jerusalem and Israeli government offices. The letter demanded that the Agency respond to the allegations and if found guilty, may have to end its activities in Russia.
Former chief rabbi of Moscow, Rav Pinchas Goldschmidt, who was forced to leave Russia after refusing to support the war in Ukraine, is also fearful that Jews may soon be prevented from leaving Russia. “There’s fear that the Iron Curtain will shut completely and one day it won’t be possible to leave Russia at all,” he told Channel 12 News in a recent interview.
According to Rav Goldschmidt, Russia wants its Jews to remain in the country due to their contributions to society, especially in the economic and academic spheres.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)