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Jews Continue Coming Home at Increasing Rates
Israel is a land of immigration, and it’s not only waves of Jews returning to their ancient homeland
The State of Israel has taken in around 3.3 million immigrants since its inception in 1948, when it had just 806,000 residents. After 1990, 43.7 percent of all immigrants were from the former Soviet Union. Many waves of Jewish immigration also came from what was then Russia decades before the state was founded.
Immigration to Israel (Aliya) remains relatively high these days. Last year, Russia was again at the top of the countries from which Jews emigrated. In 2018, 28,100 people made Aliya, 6.6% more than in the previous year. Most came from Russia, followed by Ukraine, the United States and France.
This year, 27,300 olim (immigrants) came to Israel between January and October, 20% more than in the same period a year ago. Once here, 85% of immigrants are satisfied with local life, which is lower than among native Israelis, 92% of whom are satisfied. It takes some getting used to life in the Jewish state.
At the same time, there are also many non-Jewish immigrants who have no citizenship but have lived in the country for many years. At the end of 2018, there were 106,200 foreign workers who have been legally living in Israel, especially since 2003. Most of this group comes from Thailand, the Philippines, India, Moldova and China. There were around 58,000 illegal immigrants at the end of 2018, most of them from Eritrea (71%) and Sudan (20%). This past year is the first in which there were no new illegal immigrants applying for asylum.
Immigration to Israel naturally increases when Jews are suffering abroad. For example, the rising violent antisemitism in France has in recent years pushed many Jews to seek refuge in Israel. The only anomaly remains the United States, where antisemitism is also on the rise, but where Jews also still enjoy a relatively comfortable life. Nevertheless, Jewish immigration to Israel from the United States is on the rise. This is partly due to the fact that a large portion of Jews in America are Orthodox, and moving to Israel holds many advantages for them. Then there are others who are highly motivated by the opportunity to help fulfill biblical commandments and promises related to resettling this Land.
Immigration from Arab countries has all but ceased due to the simple fact that there are hardly any Jews left today in the other countries of the Middle East. Between 1948 and 1980, around 850,000 Jews came to Israel from Arab and Muslim countries.