An ex-Minister of the Interior in the Ukraine and board member of an anti-Semitic newspaper was granted Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.
Yuri Lutsenko, a former Interior Minister of the Ukraine, received Israeli citizenship on July 22, 1999 - though he is not Jewish according to Jewish law. The discovery of this fact recently has caused a political storm in his home country, as Lutsenko himself had strongly condemned political opponents who sought citizenship in other countries. His political opponents in the Ukraine, of which he has many, are up in arms at the fact that while he served as a high-ranking Cabinet official and eaded what is known there as the "orange" revolution in favor of democracy and Westernism, he found himself refuge abroad in case of need.
In Israel, the news has made waves in that Lutsenko received Israeli citizenship while at the same time serving in his home country on the editorial board of a known anti-Semitic newspaper, the "Village News" (Silski Visti).
When the news of his Israeli citizenship first came out, Lutsenko firmly denied it, saying on television that the accusation was made by an "official whose face has never been distorted by intellect." Now, however, it can no longer be denied; a photograph of the document proving his Israeli citizenship has been widely circulated.
Less than two weeks ago, newly-appointed Minister of Absorption Yaakov Edry (Kadima) said it was clear that many new immigrants to Israel had no connection with Judaism. He said he plans to conduct an all-out review of the Law of Return, because "of the many forgeries, and because it is clear that some of the immigrants are not only not Jewish, but have absolutely no connection with Judaism."
Tuvia Lerner of Arutz-7's affiliate Russian language website Sedmoy Kanal [Channel Seven], who himself immigrated from the former Soviet Union some four decades ago, said, "At Amona, some of the Yassam special force policemen who were so violent against the youths were originally from Russia. One of the protestors said to one of them, 'Come on, brother, we didn't come to fight each other" - to which the policeman answered, 'I'm not your brother, you dirty Jew.'"
The Jewish Agency has been known to encourage immigration to Israel in the former Soviet Union even among non-Jews. This is facilitated by the Law of Return's "grandfather" clause, legislated in 1970, which states that non-Jews who have a Jewish grandparent are eligible to immigrate to Israel.
Lerner recently asked former Absorption Minister MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) why this clause, which allows so many non-Jews into Israel, is not rescinded. Edelstein answered, "The Law of Return is the most lenient immigration law in the world - but even [it] does not require Israel’s representatives to actively look for people who had no idea they might be eligible for immigration, and tell them that all they have to do is bring some proof that they had a Jewish grandparent. Yet this is exactly what the Jewish Agency was doing year after year in the former USSR, sending its agents to the most remote areas of that vast land and placing ads to this effect in the local newspapers. The end result was the influx to Israel of people who have nothing to do with the Jewish people or anything Jewish."
Edelstein said he fought the Jewish Agency on this issue when he was Absorption Minister, and that the Agency finally accepted his point of view and allegedly stopped this policy. "However, the results of what was done before are irreversible, and those who were brought to Israel in those years are full-fledged citizens of the country... They are certainly not candidates for conversion, and all we can hope for is that they will use their Israeli passports to move themselves on to other countries."