NEW YORK (Jul. 31)
The Committee for Jewish Survival, an ad hoc organization of Orthodox Jews, charged today that the Israel government was registering non-Jewish immigrants as Jews and that many such registrants were returning to their home communities with the Israeli “proof” that they were Jews and should be accepted as such. They include Americans, the Committee said.
Yosef Wilenkin, general secretary of the Committee, said that Committee members in Israel handed a report last month to the Knesset Interior Committee, making the charge and listing the names, registration numbers and other information on what the Committee said were 160 non-Jews who had been registered in Israel as Jews on their entry papers and identity cards. Wilenkin told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Committee had offices in Israel, Britain, Canada, France, Brazil, and in Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and Chicago in this country.
Wilenkin said that the report given to the Knesset committee was based on two months of “grass roots” research by Committee members in Israel, the United States and Britain. Asked why non-Jews would want such “proof,” he said that there had been a recent trend by conversion-seeking Gentiles who. “for one reason or another are pushed off from conversion or are not accepted as converts in their communities” to seek acceptance by spending some time in Israel as an immigrant and then returning home where they are fully accepted as Jews in their communities.
Included among such Gentiles, Wilenkin said, were non-Jews married to Jews who wish to enroll their children in a Hebrew school or join a synagogue, and non-Jews seeking to marry Jews. He said “they often find it tedious and sacrificing to obtain an Orthodox conversion. Many of them do not want a Reform conversion and even those who do, often find it time-consuming.” He asserted that “for a Gentile to become converted to Jew through the aliya process is not at all difficult. In many cases, the immigration authorities do not ask the applicant’s religion and in other cases the applicant merely lies.”
He said the Committee had conducted its study in the United States, Britain and Israel. He said Committee members had interviewed persons who had either returned home after a brief stay in Israel or who were living in Israel with identity cards bearing the label “Yehudi.” He asserted that some of them were married to or intending to marry Orthodox partners who assumed they were Jews.
The specifics on 160 such persons, he said, had been presented to the Interior Committee by Rabbi Shmuel Chafer and Yehuda Paldi. He charged that Interior Minister Yosef Burg, who directs all immigration activities, had responded to the Committee’s report by asking Israel’s secret service to investigate the Committee, known in Israel as the Committee for Jewish Integrity, to learn how it obtained the information in the report.” He charged Dr. Burg “wants to keep the whole matter concealed.”