The Jewish Agency's Time Has Passed

The activities to encourage aliyah constitute an intrusion upon the sovereignty of states that are friendly to Israel. The fact that these states do not oppose these problematic activities does not mean they have a seal of approval.

It requires a measure of arrogance for a state to turn to the citizens of another state and call upon them to emigrate, claiming it offers superior qualities. It takes a good bit of impudence when this claim is unfounded. And it requires a measure of racism to encourage the immigration of certain populations while closing the gates of the state to others, solely based on their ethnic origin. The fact that this type of activity takes place under the guise of the Jewish Agency does not make the State of Israel any less responsible.

The time has passed for the "job fairs" the Jewish Agency has recently been organizing in Britain and France, as reported in Haaretz on Thursday. Other Zionist activities to encourage aliyah to Israel also do more harm than good. The same is true of the Jewish Agency itself, an anachronistic body that should be shut down. The gates of the country should remain open to Jews wishing to immigrate, but the efforts invested in trying to persuade them to do so should be halted.

The activities to encourage aliyah constitute an intrusion upon the sovereignty of states that are friendly to Israel. The fact that these states do not oppose these problematic activities does not mean they have a seal of approval. This Zionist activity sometimes borders on subversion: Imagine how we would react to the agitation of a foreign state that encourages the citizens of Israel to abandon it. If the state needed this kind of activity in the past - in order to save Jews in distress or to ensure its existence - there is no justification for it today. Israel does not need additional Jews in order to ensure its existence, and there are almost no Jews in the world living in real danger.

On the other hand, there is not enough substance behind the promises the Jewish Agency and the state make about what new immigrants can expect here. Today, there is no place less secure for Jews than the State of Israel. Only here are their lives and the lives of their children endangered. The national home and the land that absorbs immigrants is currently the most difficult battlefront of the Jewish people. The same is true regarding the promise of economic betterment. The job fairs are liable to generate great disappointment. Is Israel really a better place than the United States from an economic perspective? Is social welfare really superior here in comparison to Britain? Do Israel's citizens enjoy more liberties than those in France? Even the Jews who suffer from anti-Semitic persecution in Europe live under broader liberty and equality that those granted to the non-Jewish citizens of Israel.

Most of the Jews in the world live under better conditions than those awaiting them in Israel. Israel may attract some of these Jews, but not because of the economic or personal security it offers them. It is a bit difficult to fathom how a state with rising unemployment and shrinking medical benefits can dare to offer employment and other economic advantages to citizens of other countries that are more affluent and well-established. There is an immoral element in this, not only in regard to these prospective immigrants, but also in relation to the citizens of Israel: Assistance to the new immigrants will necessarily come at the expense of the eroding level of social welfare in Israel. Adding another medication to the basket of subsidized medicines is much more essential and ethical than bringing another new immigrant to Israel.

Less ethical is the courting of immigrants from the West, while the gates are locked against other groups. Thousands of Falashmura are crowded together in Addis Ababa, waiting to immigrate to Israel. There is no need to organize a job fair to persuade them to immigrate, but the gates of Israel have been closed to them for years. The European Jews are courted, while various pretexts are used to prevent the African Jews from immigrating. There is more than a bit of racism in this.

The attitude toward other populations is even worse. Foreign workers who toil here for years, invited by us, are expelled in shame. Unlike the countries of the West, there is no chance for them to gain citizenship in Israel. Why? Unbearable difficulties await Jews who wish to live here with non-Jewish partners. Under the current law, there is no possibility of family unification for Palestinians, who are also children of this land. Women are separated from their husbands, and children from their parents, because of a harsh and discriminatory immigration policy. One hand encourages aliyah and the other cruelly slams the gates. The only criterion is ethnic origin. Does the desire to preserve "the Jewish character" of the state justify all of the means?

Aliyah no longer needs to be a value in itself. Those who wanted to make aliyah did so and those who wish to immigrate in the future can do likewise. And those who wish to emigrate from Israel are also free to do so. This no longer has anything to do with values. Israel today knows how to honor its emigres if they succeed in their new countries. Who decided that a bigger Israel is better? And who determined that immigration to Israel is something of inherent value?

The policy of encouraging aliyah is aimed only at the "demographic demon" - the demonic danger that is ostensibly threatening the state's existence. This demon will not disappear by means of aliyah, even large-scale aliyah. Even if another million new immigrants arrive, as in the prime minister's exaggerated vision, this will not change the enduring fact that between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea live two peoples entitled to equal rights. No massive aliyah will erase the other people from the face of the earth. The demon will only stop being a demon when peace reigns and the state becomes more just.

The Jewish Agency's aliyah emissaries should come home, job fairs should be shut down and the Jewish Agency should cease to exist. Jews who wish to immigrate are welcome to do so at their own responsibility, knowing that there is a considerable element of adventure in this move. The assistance extended to them must be exactly the same as the assistance the citizens of the state receive. In the current reality, no one can honestly promise them personal security, an economic future or an especially just society. It is only fair to tell them this.