Monday, May 9, 2016

Netherlands: Christian group pressuring Ukrainian Jews to move to Israel

Via NL Times:
Ukrainian chief rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich wants a Dutch Christian group to stop pressuring Jewish people in the Ukraine to move to Israel, he said to newspaper Trouw following a documentary on the group. The documentary “Breng de Joden Thuis” aired Tuesday.

The group in question is Christenen voor Israel (CVI), or Christians for Israel in English. They believe that all Jews must leave Europe, because Jesus will return once all Jews are in Israel. Last year some 7 thousand Jews left the Ukraine, many of them through this group according to the newspaper.

The documentary shows a CVI worker Koen Carlier visiting farms in the Ukrainian country side. The Jews are told that the antisemitism in the Ukraine is very bad and will only get worse.  At one point he is talking to an old lady. “You have to go to Israel”, he says.

The rabbi disapproves heavily of this scene. “Putting a woman of that age under pressure like that? That is madness.” the rabbi said to Trouw. Rabbi Leich thinks the CVI should adapt its working methods. “If you ant to do something good for the Jews and tell them: ‘Go away from here, because your life is in danger’, then go to help the Jews in Yemen.” He sees no problem with the CVI collecting money to buy plane tickets, as long as they do not pressure anyone. “If you do it in an appropriate way, it’s a great thing. After all, Israel is the best place to live for a Jew.”

Ronny Naftaniel, chairman of the Jewish Humanitarian Fund calls the CVI’s methods “misleading scare tactics”. “CVI pretends people must go immediately. That is nonsense. Ukrainian Jews say that compared to other European countries they suffer the least under antisemitism”, he said to the newspaper.

The CVI itself is very unhappy with the documentary, calling it one-sided. “Our staff speaks very passionately to the people. but there are also beautiful deep conversations.” director Roger van Oordt said to the newspaper. “And we do more: we put up Holocaust monuments, hand out food packages. That you don’t get to see.” He denies that they pressure anyone. “Afterwards we are often told: If only you put more pressure on me.”

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