Responding to comments made last week by Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, regarding Soviet immigrants to Israel, Speaker of the Knesset MK Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Likud) said Tuesday, “Immigrants from the [former] Soviet Union are an integral part of Israeli society,” adding that these immigrants “realized the dream of Shivat Tzion [return to Zion], and one cannot imagine the State of Israel without the tremendous contribution of the Aliyah from the Soviet Union.”

It was reported that at a rabbinical gathering last week in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef told the audience that “hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of non-Jews came to Israel because of the law defining who is a Jew.”

“There are many, many non-Jews here, and some of them are Communists, enemies of the faith, haters of religion,” Rabbi Yosef continued.

“They aren’t Jewish at all, they are non-Jews. And they vote for parties which incite against haredim and against the faith.”

The rabbi went on to say “They were brought here to Israel so as to serve as a counter-balance against the haredim. So that in elections there won’t be too many haredim. That’s why they total non-Jews were allowed to immigrate to Israel – absolute non-Jews. Unfortunately, we are seeing the result of the incitement they make.”

Speaker Edelstein said in his statement that “even during a pre-election period, there is no room for improper discourse of hatred and divisiveness. The fast of the 10th of Tevet, Yom HaKadish HaKlali (Collective Day of Kaddish), serves as a reminder for us: Our strength is in our unity.”