Opinion

The Jewish-blood Border Police

The Interior Ministry is reexamining the citizenship of veteran immigrants, particularly from the Soviet Union. Does anyone care?

FILE PHOTO: Immigrants from the former Soviet Union  Archival
Moshe Milner

Does anybody care that the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority is reexamining the citizenship of veteran immigrants, especially from the former Soviet Union? The ones who have applied for permanent residency for their non-Jewish partners? And that in certain cases this agency has sought to revoke citizenship many years after it was granted? Judging by the indifference, apparently not.

This might be connected to racism toward “the Russians,” and the myth that many of them are not Jewish. It might be that they thought that this agency is correcting its own past failures, from a time when they weren’t sufficiently on their guard and allowed non-Jewish labor migrants to infiltrate the country. Israel found a convenient bureaucratic opportunity to locate and capture them; perhaps it secretly dreams of deporting them. It has turned “the Russians” into “infiltrators.”

Otherwise, why would the Population, Immigration and Border Authority do this? After all, “other significant procedures are based on the existence of citizenship, but no similar examination is being made,” Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber wrote in an opinion in which she determined that the authority must stop the practice (Ilan Lior, Haaretz, Dec. 25). Citizenship is a condition for receiving a passport, for example, and for running for the Knesset, but in these cases, the authority doesn’t reexamine the citizenship of the applicant. So why do so in this case?

Everyone knows the answer, it’s simply unpleasant to admit it. In Israel there’s a kind of shared deviancy, and as with any deviancy, it’s a little bit secret; people whisper about it, behind closed doors: the fear of intermarriage. The fear of Jews marrying non-Jews. For Jews abroad, the situation is different. According to a 2017 report by the Jewish People Policy Institute on the status of the Jewish people (which changed its original crazy name, the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, but apparently not its crazy pretension. Who plans a people? What are you, God?), while the rate of intermarriage in Israel is 5 percent, in the United States it’s 58 percent. Do you want to know where people have really forgotten to be Jewish? In Russia, where the intermarriage rate is no less than 80 percent. No wonder the population agency wants to revoke the citizenship of assimilated people in Israel. You want to marry a non-Jew and assimilate? Go to Russia.

It’s important to distinguish between ordinary intermarriage and assimilation. Secular Jews have no trouble assimilating in Israel, that is, adopting norms, values and customs from other cultures, happily “hellenizing” in Tel Aviv. But that’s why the population and immigration authority must be strict for us, so non-Jewish genes don’t infiltrate our collective bloodstream, and we can pretend to be Americans in our ghetto-state, without fear of foreigners: Israel as a “safe space” that the Jews created for themselves, where they can party freely without being tempted to lose their identity, perish the thought.

This deviancy is a very dramatic component in the personality of secular Israelis, and it has nearly the force of a taboo. It’s a deviancy that is passed down through the generations, without even the need for explicit interference by the education system. So, anyone who takes this step immediately sets off the alarms of the Jewish-blood border police: Apparently we have a non-Jewish infiltrator. An investigation is launched pronto. It turns out that you can take the Jews out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the Jews. And in a tragic irony, especially not in Israel.