More than 200 new immigrants from North America recently arrived in Israel. “People are talking about the instability in Israel, more and more people are telling us they don’t want to immigrate,” said organizers at Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit organization that supports, encourages and facilitates Aliyah to Jews primarily from the US, Canada and UK. “Israel is no longer as attractive to young Jews in the diaspora as it used to be. Israel has lost its luster. What is happening in the country is being followed with concern and fear by Jews all over the world. What’s the point of moving to Israel if everyone there just fights amongst themselves?”
The controversial judicial reform is tearing apart Israeli society and affecting all areas of life, not only within Israel but also among Jews in the Diaspora. Why should Jews come to Israel when Zion is full of strife and life is better in exile? Jews typically only left their homes in the Diaspora when things were going badly for them and antisemitism was on the rise. The Nefesh B’Nefesh organization has provided the government with figures showing that immigration from North America is falling dramatically, especially among young people. The young generation is currently finding it difficult to identify with the people of Zion and their brothers and sisters in Israel, and say it is not the right time to make Aliyah. Comparing the first seven months of this year with previous years, excluding the Corona years, shows that Aliyah dropped by over one-third.
There has been an increase in the arrival of Jewish pensioners, who are also less affected by the political instability in Israel. They had planned their move long before the current turmoil and often want to be with their children and grandchildren who have already made Aliyah. Jewish families with children continue to come to Israel, although not in large numbers, but they do come. The simple reason for this is that they have already enrolled their children in Israeli schools and educational institutions and do not want to undo this.
“Israel is not the only immigration destination for American Jews. Israel has competitors. Voluntary immigration to Israel will only work if the country really is a beacon for young people and attracts them,” says Nefesh B’Nefesh. “At a time when the pull is waning, there is an automatic slowdown. By the end of the year we’ll probably reach around 3,000 immigrants, but that’s about 15 percent fewer than in previous years, and that hurts us.”
Not only that, but donations from philanthropists to Israel are falling dramatically. A donor who describes himself as a great Zionist has announced that due to the situation in Israel he will freeze the funds he has promised. Donors say Israel has lost its luster. The Jews in the Diaspora are also worried about the economic situation in the country.
בהתרגשות רבה קיבלנו הבוקר את 215 העולים החדשים מארה"ב ומקנדה שעלו הבוקר לישראל. לראשונה העולים עברו הליך קליטה מלא בטיסה ובו הוענקו להם תעודות העולה על המטוס כתוצאה משיתוף פעולה מוצלח של עובדי @KlitaGov ועובדי רשות האוכלוסין וההגירה, למען קליטתם הקלה של העולים.
עם נחיתת העולים… pic.twitter.com/Ygc1pT7PrP
— אופיר סופר (@ofir_sofer) August 16, 2023
Tweet: Minister of Immigration Ofir Sofer to welcome young recent immigrants from North America on Aug 16, 2023
Israel’s Immigration Minister Ofir Sofer told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot that the decline began even before the judiciary reform. “When I took office, I set myself a goal – the immigration of students to Israeli universities. We are working on it and preparing programs. In order to achieve that, we need to be able to provide shelter for the young people and create a new community in the country. I wish the State of Israel better days, days of unity and common destiny. I’m sure we will achieve that.”
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