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Thursday, August 16, 2007

A new form of Aliya Bet - illegal immigration to Israel

Aliya Bet was the illegal immigration of Jews escaping the Holocaust and entering Israel under the British Mandate. It is returning! Because of the interpretation of Israeli Law of Return, Jews from India cannot come to Israel under law of return, and therefore a "secret" aliyah is being organized.
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Ami Isseroff

260 Bnei Menashe to make secret aliyah

Four flights of northeast Indian Jews organized by Shavei Israel association without informing any government bodies to arrive in Israel by end of August
Itamar Eichner Published: 08.16.07, 13:38 / Israel Jewish Scene

Private bodies are planning on bringing 230 members of the Menashe Tribe to Israel, without the government's knowledge, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Thursday.

The tribe members, who live in a remote area in northeast India, will be brought to Israel on four flights toward the end of August.

The arrangements for the move were made between Shavei Yisrael, an organization which locates and identifies long-lost Jewish communities, and former director general of the Interior Ministry Ram Belinkov.

For unknown reasons the arrangements were kept secret from the Prime Minister's Office, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Jewish Agency.

"I did hear that there was such an agreement with a private organization to bring them (Bnei Menashe) to Israel," Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday after hearing about it for the first time. "I do not agree with this. I don't care about prior agreements."
Other government offices also expressed uncertainty in the matter, and one government source said, "In a few days, dozens of Bnei Menashe will show up here and walk around with a backpack and a stick…No one knows what will be done with them."
Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund was not available to comment.

The tribe members arriving in Israel will not receive immigrant status since, according to the Law of Return, they must undergo a conversion process first.
In the meantime, the immigrants will be given temporary residency or tourist status, and in the future, their conversion will be settled in order to allow them to remain in Israel as olim.
The tribe claims to descend from one of the lost tribes of Israel, the Menashe Tribe, which originated in modern-day Iraq. Over the past 50 years the tribe members have been returning to their Jewish roots and in the past 15 years some 1,220 of them have immigrated to Israel.

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