Regev Calls on Government to Fund Emergency B’nei Menashe Aliyah
(April 28) At a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem this week, our Newsletter has learned, Transportation Minister Miri Regev called on the government of Israel to make funds immediately available for the Aliyah of the 5,000 B’nei Menashe still in India. “The B”nei Menashe are our brothers and sisters,” she said in speaking of the need to bring them home to Israel as quickly as possible at a time when the Covid19 pandemic is raging in India.
According to our sources, Regev’s proposal was seconded at the cabinet meeting by Immigration Minister Penina Tamano-Shata. “This is a life-and death matter,” Tamano-Shata reportedly told the cabinet members, expressing the fear that the pandemic may soon spiral out of control in the remote northeast Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur where the country’s B’nei Menashe live.
So far, none of either state’s B’nei Menashe are known to have come down with the illness. Yet infection rates have been rising in both and there is concern that they may rocket as they have done all over the Indian subcontinent. “We don’t know what is going to happen,” our Newsletter was told by Lalam Hangshing, Chairman of Manipur’s B’nei Menashe Council. “But a total lockdown seems inevitable. It’s a question of when, not if.”
Regev has long been known for her support of the B’nei Menashe community, which she has expressed on many occasions. “For this, Degel Menashe is responsible,” says her secretary Avi Ovadia. “It was through your organization that she first got to know the community. Since then, she has come to care deeply about it.”
Regev did not, Ovadia said, present an actual plan for a large B’nei Menashe Aliyah. “Her purpose,” he stated, “was to bring the B’nei Menashe’s situation to the attention of the government. She did not go into numbers or timetables.”
Although Minister of Finance Yisrael Katz was present at the cabinet meeting, he did not take a stand on the possibility of an emergency allotment. Nor did the cabinet take any concrete decisions. “We do think, though,” Ovadia said, “that Minister Regev’s initiative has brought about a willingness to look more seriously into the matter on a cabinet level.”
Asked by our Newsletter how Regev, a high Likud figure and outspoken Netanyahu loyalist, planned to pursue her initiative if current coalition talks ended with her party no longer in power, Ovadia declined to reply. “Right now there’s no time to think about such things,” he said. “We’re still racing against the clock to form a right-wing government and it’s too early to say that we’ve failed. We’ll have to take it one step at a time.”