• ISRAEL \ Mar 07, 2001
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    Attorney General adds new twist to Law of Return
Attorney General adds new twist to Law of Return Attorney General Eliyakim Rubinstein has reinterpreted the law of Right of Return that says children and grandchildren of Jews are eligible for new immigrant status. He ruled that children of converts to Judaism are not eligible for immigrant rights unless the children convert as well, or are born after the parents convert.
This interpretation of the law has outraged MK Roman Bronfman of the Democratic Choice party. "This is a decision that is entirely about pleasing the new government. Even before the Shas ministers are on their seats, their policies are going into effect. These are decrees that the new immigrants won't be able to abide," he said.
Rubinstein's ruling was made in answer to a request for a clarification from the Interior Ministry more than a year ago. It concerned the case of a single gentile converting and bringing an entire family to Israel - a scenario fitting Russian immigrants, foreign workers and Falash Mora.
In the Interior Ministry, this is referred to as ger gorer (loosely, convert convoys.) By the 1990s, the numbers of immigrants entering Israel who were not Jewish but getting the rights of the Law of Return had risen to tens of thousands.
A spokesman for the Justice Ministry, speaking in Rubinstein's name, said "before the new interpretation is implemented, temporary solutions should be found for those who have already been declared eligible for new immigrant status because of family relationship to converts, but have yet to get their rights. Humanitarian solutions also have to be found for cases where the ruling could harm families."
Meanwhile, the army chief education officer told the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee yesterday that some new immigrant soldiers, angered by their treatment in the country, are asking to use the New Testament instead of the Jewish Bible during their induction as soldiers. Brig. Gen. Elazar Stern said that 92 out of 436 new immigrant soldiers being inducted asked for the New Testament in January, although most were Jewish.
"Only a very small number are real Christians," he told the committee, which had convened to discuss denigrating remarks the IDF officer was alleged to have made about non-Jewish soldiers being inferior to Jews. He denied making the remark, although admitting he said soldiers with identity problems have motivation problems, and non-Jewish soldiers have identity problems.
Absorption Minister Yuli Tamir suggested that instead of using the Bible, soldiers be allowed to swear on the Declaration of Independence, which guarantees equal rights for all citizens, Jewish nor not.
In another issue, a Dahaf opinion poll found that 27 percent of immigrant women from the former Soviet Union feel Israelis treat them as prostitutes