With the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the U.S. quietly evacuating embassy employees and their families from the eastern European country, Israel is gearing up for an influx of Jewish refugees.
According to Haaretz, Israeli government ministers met Sunday in a closed-door meeting to discuss strategy for absorbing tens of thousands of Ukrainians with Jewish heritage who qualify for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.
In attendance at the meeting were representatives from the Defense Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Diaspora Ministry, and the Nativ organization, which works to strengthen ties between Russian-speaking Jews and the Israeli government.
Although so far there has been no immediate uptick in Jewish Ukrainians wishing to immigrate to Israel, in 2021 aliya increased by 4%. In the event of an invasion, it’s unknown if eligible Ukrainians would want to move to the Jewish State, but just in case, the Israeli government is preparing for a possible “mass absorption” scenario.
The issue is extremely sensitive, as a large airlift of Jews by Israel would provide damaging optics for the Russian and Ukrainian governments, which have engaged in public relations campaigns in recent years aimed at proving to the international community that their Jewish citizens are safe.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Israel absorbed more than one million Russian speakers. In 2021 there were 2,123 new immigrants from Ukraine, a 4% increase. Continue Reading…