Jews who immigrated to Israel in the recent years told Knesset members Tuesday that they were "deeply disappointed" with the government ministries' treatment of them and that they regret their decision to make aliyah.
Representatives of the community attended a meeting of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs and presented to the Knesset members the problems they have been facing since arriving in Israel.
According to current data, dozens of Yemen Jews have been brought to the country in recent years, and there are only 50 families who currently live in Yemen.
In order to illustrate the problems faced by the new immigrants, the committee summoned Naama Nahari, who immigrated to Israel with her husband and 12 children three years ago.
She has been living at the Ashkelon absorption center ever since her arrival, but the Jewish Agency has recently asked her to vacate her apartment in favor of other immigrants.
"My oldest son is 25 years-old, my youngest is five. They promised us that if we make aliyah, we will have a place to live, a good life. But instead they tossed us aside and no one cares… my children are mad at me and don't want to speak to me because I convinced them to immigrate to Israel, while the Satmar hassidim wanted us to stay in New York," she said.
"I love Israel, but we're dying here. We can't live her," she added.
Facing difficulties. Yemeni immigrants at Knesset (Photo: Haim Zach)
Nahari's son, Yosef, also described the difficulties his family has encountered. "Our situation is bad. We've been to New York, and there it was like heaven, but we foolishly decided to come to Israel. My mother wanted to make aliyah to Israel. Now my father is mad at her. Who wouldn't be mad at his wife for bringing her family to such a situation? I want to return to America, and this is what we'll do if there is no choice."
"It's very difficult to live in Israel. All we have to do is ask the Satmars to help us and they'll take care of all the arrangements. They rented us the flat there," he explained.
Yosef Nahari claimed that other families were in a similar condition. "Like us, there are many other families who want to leave. Maybe what we to do in order to receive help in buying a house go to Ethiopia and immigrate as Ethiopians," he remarked cynically.
Shlomo Grafi, an aliyah activist responsible for the Yemeni immigration, said during the discussion that the new immigrants were embittered by the treatment they were receiving.
"They are being sent letters to leave the (Jewish) Agency apartments and they have nowhere to go to. Where are they supposed to have money from? They have no professions, no guidance. They have been completely abandoned.
"I wish I could believe something good might come out of this committee. My experience tells me that apart from babbles, nothing will come out of it. The Jewish Agency and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry are also not doing a thing," he said.
Committee Chairman MK Michael Nudelman (Kadima) identified with the situation of the Yemeni immigrants.
"I don’t understand why we at the committee have to fight with such issues… Without mortgage grants they will not be able to find a permanent housing solution. It's unreasonable that they are living in such conditions. The committee will work to immediately find a permanent housing solution for the family," he said.
Response: We will help them
The Jewish Agency representative addressed the Nahari family's remarks.
"The Jewish Agency allows every family of immigrants to live in an absorption center for up to a year. The Nahari family was given an extra half a year. If the family is unable to receive permanent housing, the State should provide a solution through public housing."
Immigrant Absorption Ministry officials said in response to the claims made by the Nahari family, "After the government cancelled the mortgage grants in 2003, the ministry approached the Finance Ministry's budget department with a request to approve a mortgage grant for the last 50 families that arrived from Yemen.
"The ministry believes that bringing Yemeni immigrants to Israel and providing them with mortgage grants is extremely important. We are talking about the rest of the Jews left in Arab countries and about poor immigrants who are incapable of purchasing an apartment on their own.
"These immigrants must live in a supportive environment and near their community, and will not be able to do so without the aid. Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim announced that he would resume his appeal to the Finance Ministry in a bid to help the last families from Yemen to immigrate to Israel and receive aid."