Yad L’Achim’s top officials were invited to address the Knesset Aliya and Absorption Committee last week at a special session on the growing problem of assimilation. They presented startling figures on the phenomenon of Jewish girls living in Arab villages, many of whom have even converted to Islam, r”l.
Committee chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) opened the session by stating that the scope of the “frightening” problem had only recently come to light. Referring to Jewish girls in Arab villages, he said, “some find themselves in a situation where they are unable to leave. This could be in the Gaza Strip, Area A of the Palestinian Authority [where Palestinians have both security and civilian control] or in Bedouin villages.”
In addressing the committee, Yad L’Achim leaders cited the hair-raising words of Afula Deputy Mayor Dr. Boris Yudis that in his northern city we are seeing the kidnapping of Jewish girls aged 11, 12 and 13 to Arab villages. Yad L’Achim aired a video that demonstrated the intolerable ease with which Jewish souls fall into the hands of these predators.
MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas) said in a pained voice that “all of the difficult figures that we are being exposed to today reflect what Hagaon Rav Shalom Dov Lifschitz, zt”l, was warning about throughout the years. He gave expression to the cries of all those in need of pidyon shevuyim [release from captivity], but the Knesset, till this very day, has not done enough to put an end to this terrible phenomenon.”
MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) spoke glowingly of Yad L’Achim and its activities, adding that a very sensitive case had reached her desk, which she referred to Yad L’Achim. She warmly praised Yad L’Achim’s professional handling of the case.
MK Michael Ben Ari (Bayit Hayehudi) said that the Jewish people, which had experienced the loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust, could not afford to stand by at a time when young Jews were assimilating into Arab villages.
The committee was astounded to learn that the Education Ministry, as a matter of policy, refuses to allow Yad L’Achim’s social workers and professionals into the public schools to address students on the problem and thereby prevent tragedies. A representative of the ministry attending the meeting had a hard time answering MKs’ questions on the matter.
Another issue raised at the meeting, which also included representatives of the Lehava organization and other groups, was the shortage of suitable housing for rescued women. A representative of the Social Welfare Ministry admitted that the matter had “fallen between the cracks” and wasn’t being properly addressed by the government.
As the meeting came to an end, the chairman said the committee would continue to monitor the situation and would hold a follow-up session shortly.