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Orthodox Ministers Complaining Non-jews Immigrating from USSR

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Orthodox Cabinet ministers are continuing to complain that non-Jews are being admitted to Israel as Soviet immigrants.

Menachem Porush, appointed deputy minister of labor and social affairs when his Agudat Yisrael party joined the Likud-led government last month, is the latest to make such claims.

He charged at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that Soviet non-Jews are resorting to fraud to gain admission to Israel as immigrants.

His allegations were similar to those of Absorption Minister Yitzhak Peretz, who, during and following a visit he made to Moscow, claimed that 30 to 35 percent of the Soviet olim arriving here do not qualify as Jews by halachic standards.

But Porush said he was not focusing on the “dubious cases” of persons with tenuous links to Judaism. His main concern, he said, is Soviets without the remotest connection to Jewry who used forged documents to enter Israel as olim.

He said he had that information on the authority of an “eminent dayan” (religious judge) who made an on-the-spot investigation in the Soviet Union and was “aghast” at what he found.

Porush did not identify the sage. But he is urging the government or the Jewish Agency to sent Orthodox officials to Moscow to weed out ” goyim masquerading as Jews” among the olim.

Otherwise, he warned, ” we will have a Russian problem alongside our Palestinian problem.”

A CYNICAL WAY TO LEAVE USSR

He said there should be no reluctance on humanitarian grounds, because Israel was established as a homeland for Jews, not for just anyone who wants to leave his country.

Porush alleged that Soviet emigres latched on to Jewishness as a cynical way to get out of the Soviet Union because other countries were closed to them.

Peretz first raised the issue during a visit to Moscow last month. He has brought it up several times since, despite warnings by other ministers and Knesset members that it is a delicate matter with many ramifications that could harm aliyah.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has scheduled a meeting with Israel’s two chief rabbis when he returns from his current American visit to discuss the religious credentials of Soviet olim.

The ministers of religious affairs, interior and absorption, all rigorously Orthodox, have been invited to attend.

Peretz, formerly a member of the Orthodox Shas party, sits in the Cabinet as an independent.

Porush, a veteran Agudah Knesset member, was elevated to sub-Cabinet rank as part of his party’s coalition agreement with Likud.

Although the Council of Torah Sages, which governs Agudah, forbids its politicians from accepting full ministerial portfolios, Porush is privileged to attend Cabinet meetings.

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