Russia may be preparing to shut down immigration to Israel, activists warn

Moscow’s demand that Israel’s Jewish Agency halt its operations in Russia poses a threat to future of Russian aliyah, activists warn, urging Israel to digitize its immigration bureaucracy.

By World Israel News Staff

The Russian government’s recent decree baring the Israeli organization charged with organizing and facilitating immigration from operating in Russia could imperil the future of Russian Aliyah, immigration activists in Israel have warned.

In an interview published Monday by Yediot Aharonot, social activist Alex Rif warned that the recent demand issued by Moscow could be the first step toward effectively barring Russian Jewish immigration to Israel.

Earlier this month, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Russian government had ordered the Jewish Agency for Israel to immediately halt all of its operations in Russia.

The order was given via a letter from the Russian government to the NGO. The Jewish Agency is reportedly weighing its options, with support from Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office.

According to the Yediot Aharonot report, Russia has also demanded that the Jewish Agency, which assesses immigration requests for eligibility, transfer the information it has gathered on Russian Jews to the government.

Noting that attempts by the Israeli government to intervene have thus far failed, Rif called Russia a dictatorship, which is hostile towards foreign agencies operating within its borders.

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Rif warned that Russia could soon take the further step of barring potential immigrants from leaving, and he called on the Jewish Agency and Israel’s Immigration Ministry to streamline and digitize the immigration approval process.

“I am very concerned because senior Russian officials have not denied the content of the letter,” she said. “How long can the Jewish Agency operate like that?”

“The immigration processes must be digitized. It currently take months and involves a great deal of bureaucracy. Should Russia decide to stop Jewish immigration, leaving Jews stuck in Russia, It will be on our conscience.”

Rif added that Israel must prepare for a wave of immigrants from Ukraine, pointing out that 30,000 Ukrainian Jews have already applied to immigrate.

“Israel must prepare for a wave of immigrants,” she said.