Israeli Police have busted a group of Israeli neo-Nazis in the Tel Aviv region and found a gun and explosives. The youths are non-Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union.
Although the nine arrests were made a month ago, a gag order on the case was in place until Saturday night. Police had been investigating over 20 people involved with the group ever since the vandalizing of a large synagogue in Petach Tikvah over a year ago. The neo-Nazis had painted the walls, as well as the insides of prayer books, with Nazi graffiti.
The teenagers are from Holon, Petach Tikvah and even the Samaria town of Karnei Shomron. They reportedly have ties with neo-Nazi groups overseas via the Internet and some boast Nazi tattoos.
When police raided the homes of the neo-Nazis, they found video documentation of dozens of other crimes. The group’s members had been found to regularly beat religious Jews and foreign workers in Tel Aviv. One video shows members of the group surrounding a Russian heroin addict and, after the man admits he is Jewish, beating him mercilessly, along with another man who tries to assist him.
The group was also found to have in its possession explosives and an M-16 assault rifle.
The members remain in police custody and an indictment in the case is expected Tuesday.
Police say all the members of the neo-Nazi cell received Israeli citizenship, which grants citizenship to anybody with a third-degree Jewish relative – even by marriage. The policy has come under criticism in the past, with the Jewish Agency coming under attack for continuing to allot resources to recruiting descendents of Russian Jewry to immigrate even after nearly all Russian Jews who wished to leave had done so. In recent years, as high as 40 percent of those immigrating from Russia are non-Jews according to Jewish law.
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit says, "Giving automatic Israeli citizenship without making any demands is worth zero. We have to change our immigration laws to those of a regular state... Jews from all around the world are invited to live here, but first they must be temporary residents, and prove they are loyal to the State, and only then can they become citizens - and not the opposite."
ADL Warns Against Stereotypes, MKs Outraged
The Anti-Defamation League, founded to protect Jews from neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semitism, released a hasty statement in Hebrew from its Israel office condemning the existence of neo-Nazi groups in the Jewish state. "The youth are angry at Israelis for holding them in contempt and lash out with hatred," the statement said, calling upon Jewish Israelis not to blame all immigrants from Russia for the behavior of a “fringe group.”
MK Effie Eitam (National Union) said he plans on submitting legislation that will prevent non-Jews from immigrating to Israel under the Law of Return. The legislation would require matrilineal Jewish roots. "In recent years the State of Israel has become a refuge for people whose hatred of Jews and Zionists burns in their hearts,” he said.
The current formulation of the law is based on the early Zionist premise that anyone who would have been considered a Jew under Adolf Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws should be considered Jewish for the sake of immigration to Israel.
MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) and MK Collette Avital (Labor) each said they would also submit legislation that would strip neo-Nazis of their Israeli citizenship and deport them to their countries of origin, after first serving prison terms. Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) also echoed the call for deportation, calling the neo-Nazi groups an "erosive cancer" in Israeli society.