Israelis seek asylum in Canada
Refugees claim they're persecuted; Israeli authorities scoff at accusations
With a report from Mark MacKinnon
OTTAWA -- Canada is granting residency to growing numbers of Israeli asylum seekers, including ethnic Russians, ultra-orthodox Jews and political dissidents who say they are victims of political or religious persecution in Israel.
This is upsetting Israeli authorities and members of the Jewish community in Canada. They say the refugee claimants are smearing the image of the Middle Eastern state as one that offers a haven to persecuted Jews the world over.
"It upsets people in Israel because immigrant absorption in Israel is a key value," said Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Ottawa. "We're very hurt when we hear of these claims."
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