Ben Gurion Airport
Ben Gurion AirportFlash 90

Minister for Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai has written to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calling on him to establish an inter-ministerial team to advise the government on entry policy for Jews in the Diaspora.

The minister noted that Israel has, for the first time in its history, closed it borders to world Jewry on repeated occasions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that this closure is creating frustration and tension within world Jewry towards the Jewish state.

In his letter to the prime minister, the diaspora affairs minister also noted that that the ministry and he personally, have been inundated with personal requests for assistance from those seeking entry into Israel, owing to inconsistencies in the implementation of existing policies.

Minister Shai proposed to Prime Minister Bennett that an inter-ministerial team comprising representatives of the relevant ministries, including the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs, be established to advise the government on the implications of its entry policies for Jews around the world.

The committee would meet on a regular basis during times in which entry for foreign nationals into Israel is restricted, and provide recommendations to the government regarding entry into Israel for individuals and groups from abroad, as well as review and report on the implementation of existing entry policy.

The minister also proposed the establishment of a designated public diplomacy team for Diaspora Jewry which would maintain ongoing contact with Jewish leaders around the world on issues pertaining to the pandemic and entry into Israel.

“For the first time in history, Israel has closed its door repeatedly to the Jewish people time and again, without taking into account the consequences of Israeli policy on the fabric of relations, on our future,” wrote Minister Shai

“The voice of our sisters and brothers, Diaspora Jews, must be taken into account and be heard in the government. This is my personal and ethical obligation, the mandate I was entrusted with.

“The State of Israel is a home, from which responsibility for Jews around the world is derived. Coronavirus has been with us for two years and will unfortunately continue to accompany us in the coming years as well.”

Concluded the minister “I call on us to find a framework which will allow us to lower the bridge, to connect. Not because we need to but because they are an inseparable part of us. Because we are one people.”

Minister Shai’s letter comes after the government in the last two weeks added dozens of states to its red list of countries whose citizens are banned from entering Israel, with limited exceptions, due to the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, including the US, France, Canada, the UK, and others, all of which have large Jewish populations.