By DROR EYDAR, ISRAEL HAYOM—
The Jewish Diaspora is, for the most part, on the eve of a huge migration, similar to what we experienced with the collapse of the Iron Curtain in the early 90s and even at the end of the 19th century. Not just in Eastern Europe, also in the West. In France, for instance, the number of anti-Semitic incidents (the reported ones alone!) grew by 91 percent this year. In Ukraine and in Russia, an outbreak of anti-Semitism is lurking around the corner. And what about England, with a capital city that is turning into Londonistan? And South America?
There is no need for Jews to wait until riots break out in order to leave. The global economic crisis has been around for some time, unemployment is spreading in Western Europe. In Ukraine, not only is the economy declining but administrative services are also collapsing right before our eyes. In Russia, aside from the economic crisis, people are fearing a retreat into the dark ages that would make it impossible to leave the country. People feel that it is only a matter of time before the gates close, so they must take advantage of the current twilight period and emigrate.
The result is immense economic and social pressure and a sharp rise in emigration trends. Is Israel prepared to absorb and direct these waves of emigration toward it? The answer is not positive. As usual in the Holy Land, we do not learn from past experience and do not recognize developments on time. From speaking with those who understand the issue, one gets the impression that Israel is not prepared for this historic change.
In Ukraine, for example, there is a specific effort being made to respond to the flood of requests at the Israeli consulate, but people complain that despite the emergency circumstances, standard procedures for registration are continuing in their tedious, slow way. Jewish families fled conflict zones to go to refugee camps or to other Jewish communities, and no one is looking for them; and because it is difficult to get documents, particularly permits from local authorities, they are not being dealt with. At Israeli diplomatic missions in Russia, service is even slower, and sometimes people have to wait six months (!) for consular examination, but the Jews of the world are not waiting for us. They are at a crossroads and they do not see a future where they live, not for them, and certainly not for their children. They will leave sooner or later. In the hundreds of thousands. The question is, where will they go?
We are used to two situations: A dormant sort of existence or an emergency escape mission to save Jews from dangerous places. But we can take a different approach, one with initiative, an active approach. I spoke with Jacob Feitelson, who immigrated to Israel in the early 70s and spent many years as an Israeli representative in Ukraine and Russia. He proposed a national emergency plan to various levels of the government: “Work in Search of a New Oleh .”
If the situation is such that people are looking for a future, Israel can be assertive. Look into the needs and requirements of the Israeli economy and government services, and try to fill the gaps with the help of Jews who would emigrate from other countries. Many who are not thinking about making aliyah will change their minds as soon as they know they have an economic future waiting for them here.
The discovery of the gas fields, for example, creates the demand for employees in that line of work. This is a field that Jews in Russia and Ukraine were allowed to study (including oil exploration). In the transportation field, the development of the railway system in Israel could benefit from an increase in engineers as well as in many more fields. It is estimated that in the coming decade, Israel will experience a shortage of tens of thousands of engineers and doctors. That space cannot be filled by the institutes for higher education in Israel, but it is possible to find the right people all over the world, not just in Eastern and Western Europe, but also in the United States and Australia. There are known ways, primarily indirect ones, to advertise this among Jewish communities.
The benefits of Israel for Diaspora Jews are clear. Also, Israel is economically stronger than many Western countries. If you add to this a personal economic horizon, we will see immigration that will contribute to the strengthening and advancement of the economy and will not rely on assistance from the state.
This is a national plan. It requires cooperation between government ministries, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Jewish Agency and other bodies. We must not surrender to bureaucracy. There is no need to wait for a catastrophe, God forbid. Israel was established for the Jews of the world, and we must do everything possible to bring them home. We must bring the issue of Jewish immigration back to the forefront and direct the massive waves of immigration toward us. Do not say the day will come. Bring on the day.