Rabbi Dov Lipman, former Knesset member and Chairman of the Yad L’Olim organization for immigrants, tells Israel National News that they have a big agenda to present to the Knesset on issues immigrants are currently dealing with.
He points out that for two years the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs had not met in the Knesset.
“[This meant] that there was no platform at all for us to be able to bring the issues of olim [new immigrants] to try to make progress to help olim in their absorption into Israel. Now we finally have the committee which has been established. We've already had two sessions and we're here as Yad L'Olim to bring the voice of the olim and Diaspora Jewry to be able to make progress.”
He notes that the two year period of inaction was due to politics.
“There was a political issue in the previous government. It was an opposition committee and the opposition said we're not taking part in committees and as a result we just had no platform to be able to move forward with this,” he says.
Rabbi Lipman explains that moving forward there is much that needs to be changed and improved.
“There's so much pomp and circumstance when the flights arrive and people see olim. They love seeing the flags and Zionism. But on the day-to-day lives for olim, there are a lot of real needs that need to be addressed by the government and together with the new minister and now this new committee we can hopefully move forward. We have a long agenda.”
Their agenda includes getting the Health Ministry to add English translations to its emergency line, that according to him currently has a button you can press for languages such as Russian, French, or Amharic but not for English.
“We are demanding that they bring the English language into that, but in general at all the HMOs there should be people who have a mother tongue that can answer people's questions and help them navigate the difficult health system,” he says.
Another issue they are working on is the accreditation of academic and professional qualifications and licenses for new arrivals.
“’Is a very difficult process. People are being rejected when they should not be rejected. They're very qualified to work here and we are fighting to make sure that there aren't these rejections as an appeals process to make sure that every immigrant who deserves to be working here in their field and making good living should be able to do so.”
According to Rabbi Lipman, there is no agenda behind the roadblocks for olim but rather it’s an issue of navigating a difficult bureaucracy.
“It’s a lot of bureaucracy – a lot of times you're met with the answer, which I will never accept, which is ‘this is just the way it.’ We're trying to fight through that. I don't think anybody wants to hurt olim and not make it easy for them. So it's our job is to bring what we're hearing from the the people in a year and a half,” he says.
“In a year and a half of our organization of Yad L’olim, we’ve had close to 30,000 olim in touch with us from 22 different countries about needs that they have in the aliyah process of getting settled here. So clearly there are many many needs. We just have to bring it to the Knesset and to the government, and hopefully they'll make progress with us.”