Thursday, December 28, 2006

Aliya at a 20 Year Low


Aliya - Jewish immigration to Israel - stood at approximately 21,000 last year. This is the lowest figure since 1988, the year before the flood gates of the Soviet Union opened, and more than 1 million Jews immigrated to Israel during the intervening period. The question now is - will immigration levels level off at a respectable 20,000 - 30,000 a year, or will they fall back to the extremely low levels of the mid 1980's? In 1986 only 9500 people immigrated to Israel.

While the obvious "wells" of large scale Jewish immigration seem to have dried up, there is some indication that there is increased interest in aliya from Jews in English speaking countries. Among the 21,000 who arrived in 2006, 4000 where from the U.S. and Britain, a high point also not seem since the 1980's.

Israel also experiences Yerida - Jewish emigration. While it is hard to find accurate statistics on this, it is estimated that yerida has been averaging 15-20,000 over past 4 years.

All this could spell trouble for those worried about the "demographic threat" - the decreasing percentage of Jews in the territories ruled by Israel. Israeli Jews have a lower birth rate than the non-Jewish inhabitants, and net Jewish immigration is one factor that has been off-setting this.

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