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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Yes, you can make aliya this summer

The Jewish Agency is circumventing the Foreign Ministry strike by having olim enter Israel as tourists and then convert them to olim once they are here.
The Foreign Ministry ceased issuing immigration visas in late June as part of an ongoing work dispute by the ministry’s workers’ union and the government.

New immigrants will be flown to Israel as tourists, at the expense of the Jewish Agency, and will then be processed in Israel.

“We will do our best to bring everybody to Israel on the date they want to make aliya,” spokeswoman Hagit Halali said.

Those whose immigration has been put on hold due to the strike can expect to receive letters informing them of the “ad hoc solution,” she added.
This solution is so simple that one can only wonder why it took the Jewish Agency nearly three weeks to think of it. For those of you making aliya, welcome to reality. Here are some potential reasons why they didn't do it until now:

1. They were afraid you'd take the free flight and then return to your home countries. Oh wait, aren't they only buying you a one-way ticket? And aren't they demanding that you repay the ticket if you don't stay in Israel for a certain amount of time. 

2. They're afraid that the Foreign Ministry employees will picket your arrival at the airport or whenever you go to the Interior Ministry or the Absorption Ministry to be registered as olim. Well, who says any of those things have to be disclosed to Foreign Ministry employees? Oh wait, this is Israel where half the government workers are on strike at any given moment and the other half are busy watching them....

This reminds me of my own aliya 22 years ago (pre-Nefesh b'Nefesh) when the few financial benefits you got were the cost of the plane ticket (on what was then government-owned El Al) and a VERY small loan for your moving expenses (which was forgiven if you stayed long enough) from what we called Banky Dude. I went to the Jewish Agency to get my loan and they told me that I needed two guarantors. I looked at them like they came from another planet and asked them why I needed guarantors. They said, "surely you cannot expect to get a loan without guarantors!" I pulled a piece of plastic from my pocket and said "see this? It has no guarantors and ten times the credit line you're offering me."

In the end, they insisted on the guarantors. I no longer recall which of my American friends signed on it, but they never had to pay.

I'm so glad to hear that things haven't changed. Welcome home guys!

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