This paperwork was presented at
Istanbul Romani Studies Conference
on 12 April 2003 by the
member of International Romani Union and
The Society of Gypsies in Israel -
Mr. Valery Novoselsky.
In August 2006 it has been
published in a book Gypsies and the Problem of Identities. A. MARSH -
I. B. Tauris.
European Roma in the
State of Israel
The information on the presence of European Roma in the
modern Israel can be traced exactly from the year of it`s establishment
Two years ago the lecturer of a Hebrew University Mrs. Kathi
told me about the immigration of a group of 300 mixed Jewish-Romany
families as a part of a bigger particularly Jewish Aliyah
it means repatriation to Israel ) from Bulgaria in 1948-1951. According
the testimonies of local tabloids the majority of them, of their
children and grandchildren are
living in Jaffo and intend not to reveal their Romany identity to the
other Jewish and Arab inhabitants of this town. The only ones who know
that they are Roma are
Jews who live near by.
There is the significant gap in time between the coming of
mentioned above group and an info about the small number of
Hungarian Roma working in Israel as entertainers and entrepreneurs
since 1988, mentioned recently on Patrin mailing list.
But in contrary to mentioned above groups there are much more
evidences of a Romany presence in Israel due to the numerous
immigration to Israel of about 1 000 000 people from the former Soviet
Union since 1989. There
hundreds if not thousands of people from a mixed Romany-Jewish or
background living in this country as ordinary citizens or
According my personal surface research ( personal encounters,
conversations and postal correspondence ) on Romany individuals in The
State of Israel I can suggest that they can be categorized in the
1. Families where one spouse is Roma (
or part Roma ) and another one in Jewish ( or part Jewish ).
2. Families where one spouse is the
descendant of Romany followers of Judaism ( usually from Poland ).
3. Individuals from a mixed background
who have made their Aliyah ( repatriation ) alone.
4. Roma from Romania, Bulgaria and
former Yugoslavia working as foreign workers
in the construction
industry together with their non-Romany compatriots.
5. Foreign Roma serving in various
Christian missions in the Holy Land.
6. Romany musicians and artists living
and working in Israel periodically.
WHAT WAS DONE:
1. Personal letter of Valery Novoselsky to the editor of a
Fork" edition of "Novosti Nedeli" Russian Israeli newspaper which
was published there as an
article "It is the time to get away with the
stereotypes" on 06.12.2001.
2. The story of an Israeli scholar Barukh Podolsky on
connection in a "Jewish Fork" edition of "Novosti Nedeli"
newspaper - beginning of February 2002.
3. Friendly support of Russian Roma individuals in Haifa to a
visiting musical group "Chavale" from Moscow lead by Victor
Svetlov - July 2002.
4. An article of Valery Novoselsky "Gypsy topic in Israeli
posted in March 2003 in on-line magazine "Notes on a Jewish
history" in Russian language.
1. Media campaign in Russian Israeli
newspapers in order to affirm Roma issue
and to connect
isolated Roma individuals living in Israel.
P.S. This campaing
has been started on 29.04.2003 with the small add in the
of 7 known Israeli newspapers published in Russian language.
It will continue on
a daily basis untill 28 May.
2. The establishment of an Israeli
Romany cultural association.
SOME FACTS ON ROMA IN ISRAEL:
The presence of several main categories of Gypsy people:
1. Roma-citizens. Not less than 600
extended families originally from Bulgaria.
2. Domari-residents. Up to 3 000
people. mainly in Eastern Jerusalem and Gaza strip.
3. Roma-foreigners. Thousands among the
foreign workers from Balkans.
- negative articles in mass-media
reprinted from a foreign press.
- the lack of information on Roma from
- the virtual absence of antigypsism
among Israeli Jews in contrary to the Jews of
Central and Eastern Europe
where such sentiments were existent in the past.
1. Romany language is used in
already multilinguistic families ( Russian, Hebrew, English ... ).
2. There is a knowledge about the
Romany cultural life in CIS and Europe.
3. Long-term personal correspondence
and telephone connections in Romanes with individuals and organizations.
4. Development of internationally
recognized Roma Network based in Israel.
The limited support in literature and CDs for individuals and
finances for Roma Network comes from:
- Romano Rat. Berlin, Germany.
- Romano Centro. Vienna, Austria.
- Romane phrala. Moscow. Russia.
- European Roma Rights Center.
1. There is no active participation of
Israeli Roma in the local political life.
2. There is no knowledge on Roma
political life abroad.
3. There is no official Roma or Domari
policy in The State of Israel.
4. There was no any real scientific
research on Roma living in Israel.
5. All the Roma living in Israel whom I
personally familiar with share great sympathy
toward Zionism and
the Jewish State.
P.S. In contrary to
me who is known in Israel as a person with pro-palestinian
However, those views relate with my part-Jewish background and
not with the
part-Romany one. I critisize Zionism as a Jew, but not as Rom.
- conditions of life are not different
than of other new immigrants or long-term residents.
- there is not "mahalla" of European
Roma in Israel. Only of Domari Gypsies.
- Roma intend to live in towns, but not
in agricultural settlements.
- there is no community conferences,
but there is a permanent communication
on a family level - the
real basis for grassroots organization.
Roma Holocaust issue:
- Relatives of victims are having the
memory on what has happened in Europe in WW2.
- Denial and minimalization of Roma Holocaust exists on a
certain level among the Israeli scholars.
- There are those who claim themselves
as the followers of Judaism and some of Christianity.
However, noone intends to
claim himself as an atheist.
Israeli Roma want:
- their children to know Romany music,
- keep friendly connections preferably
with Roma individuals abroad.
- to find one another in Israel someday.
Mr. Valery Novoselsky
Member of "The Society of Gypsies
International Correspondant of the