Ministry of Aliyah: “Ties With Shavei Ended Some Time Ago”
Updated: Jul 23, 2022
(July 21) In a July 20 letter sent to Advocate Ron Dror of the law firm of Dror, Menchel, and Weinstein by Michal Shitrit-Revel, the legal advisor of the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption, the Ministry has denied having any present ties with Shavei Israel. (The Hebrew term used, hitkashrut, has the sense of an operative agreement.) The letter came in reply to a July 3 letter from the law firm to Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata demanding of her, in the name of 14 senior members of the B’nei Menashe community in Israel, to cut all ties with Shavei because of its behavior.
“As of today,” Ms. Shitrit-Revel wrote, “the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption has no tie [hitkashrut] with Shavei Israel. Over the years, when government decisions were made to bring groups of B’nei Menashe [to Israel], our Ministry entered into agreements [hitkasher] with this NGO on an ad hoc basis. Such ties ended some time ago [histaymu zeh mikvar].”
In short, the Ministry argued, it is pointless to ask it to cut its ties with Shavei because none exist. The last two operative agreements between it and Shavei, said the letter, were signed in October 2020 and May 2021, since when there have been no others. Moreover, in the 2021 agreement “the Jewish Agency was, for the first time, made an integral part of matters with the intention of turning over to it the handling of future groups [of B’nei Menashe], if and when government decisions regarding them are made.”
At the moment, stated the Ministry’s letter, no such decisions have been taken and there are no immediate plans for bringing new groups of B’nei Menashe olim. “Furthermore,” Shitrit-Revel continued, “once such plans are formulated and approved, the Ministry has no obligation to enter into an operative agreement in the matter [eyno nidrash l’hitkashrut banosey] with any particular third party. Should the Jewish Agency decline to deal with future groups of B’nei Menashe; and should, as authorized by government decisions, the task of bringing them fall to the Ministry, it will review the bodies capable of supplying such a service and ask for bids [yekayem halikh rekhesh] as required by law.”
In plain English:
1. The repeated claims made by Shavei Israel that a new Aliyah of B’nei Menashe is in the offing and that Shavei has once again been given responsibility for it are false;
2. The Ministry hopes that in the future Shavei Israel will be replaced by the Jewish Agency in everything having to do with B’nei Menashe Aliyah;
3. If the Agency, for whatever reason, chooses not to assume such a role, this will not necessarily revert to Shavei. A tender will be issued, open to all organizations deeming themselves qualified to perform part or all of the job of bringing B’nei Menashe to Israel.
Shavei Israel’s monopoly on the B’nei Menashe’s Aliyah has clearly ended. Nor, following the Ministry’s historic letter, is there any chance of its ever being restored.