Half of young Israelis are not convinced they should stay in the long run

on 8 Comments

The “reverse aliyah” story is in the news, all the Israelis seeking passports, just in case. First there’s Russia Today segment, shown below. Gideon Levy: “Israel was established to become a shelter for the Jewish people. Now Europe becomes the shelter for the Jews living in Israel.”

  So Jews in Israel are trying to get “the right papers,” as we sought those papers once inside Europe, to save ourselves. Settlement expansion is blamed for the “fear…  frightening campaigns against anything…” And the payoff is a population that feels unsafe, with one eye on Europe.  The reporter says that 1/5 Soviet Jews have already returned home…

The Russia Today segment just underlines what Ian Lustick reports in an important recent political science paper on the ideological problems surrounding the emigration discussion:

…in 2007 approximately half of Israelis between the ages of eighteen and thirty-one were unpersuaded that they wanted to live in the country over the long run—a drop of approximately 25 percent in this age group from responses gathered in 2003….

the rates of natural increase of Arabs, both in Israel and in the West Bank, have remained high. In combination with the absence of demographically significant sources of immigration, even the withdrawal from Gaza with its large Palestinian Arab population has not prevented a renewed fear that demographic trends are jeopardizing Israel’s future….

Reinforcing the effect of these trends is evidence that substantial proportions of young, skilled, and economically mobile Jews (“high-quality material” in traditional Zionist parlance) are not strongly committed to staying in Israel and/or do not expect that their children or grandchildren will live in the country. These segments of the population are also more secular, liberal, and cosmopolitan than the average Israeli. Accordingly, their departure, or their increasing openness to emigration, can aggravate the very conditions of life liable to encourage other highly skilled and liberal Israelis to consider emigration options more favorably and more urgently. Indeed, surveys increasingly find that the political and security situation in Israel, and general dissatisfaction with the performance of Israeli government institutions, are important motivators for emigration, along with traditional economic incentives.
…In dozens of interviews conducted in Israel in November 2010, Israelis from political positions across the spectrum found themselves unable to describe a future for the country that they found appealing and believed was possible. The gloom and unease afflicting Israelis of late, intensified by bloody and unsuccessful wars in Lebanon and Gaza, is given shrill expression in the leadership’s focus, and the population’s growing obsession, with the threat of annihilation said to be posed by Iran’s budding nuclear capacity. Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior ministers and respected ex-intelligence leaders regularly portray President Ahmadinejad as Hitler, Iran as Germany on the eve of World War II, and Jews in Israel as facing the possibility of a second Holocaust. In a population as traumatized by the Holocaust as are Israeli Jews, this creates a significant psychological threat. Indeed, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former deputy defense minister Efraim Sneh are just two of the Israeli politicians who have identified the Iranian threat as a factor encouraging Jewish emigration from the country

8 Responses

  1. Pamela Olson
    June 28, 2011, 1:13 pm

    So the fearmongering is starting to backfire. This is my not-surprised face.

    “Hey guys, we’re about to have a second Holocaust! So stay where you are, all bunched up in one place! That’ll show ’em!”

    I’d leave, too.

  2. Kathleen
    June 28, 2011, 1:14 pm

    Interesting and rationale. Israel’s illegal actions continue to undermine Israel based on the 67 border
    “a population that feels unsafe” self inflicted

  3. lysias
    June 28, 2011, 2:14 pm

    If Israel is turning out not to be much of a haven, I guess that’s one less reason for keeping it a Jewish state.

    • MLE
      June 29, 2011, 12:27 am

      It doesn’t matter to the American Jews who view Israel as their “insurance policy”- in case something goes wrong in the US, they can all go to Israel.

      I mentioned the fact that given the choice between Israel and the United States, Russian Jewish immigrants often chose the United States, and it upset my mother and put her on the defensive. Even though her father, who moved to Israel from Romania after the WWII, moved his family from Israel to Brazil in order to improve his chances of reaching the United States.

      • lysias
        June 29, 2011, 11:17 am

        Germany has made it so easy for Jews to migrate there, wouldn’t Germany be a much safer haven than Israel?

      • MLE
        June 30, 2011, 3:05 am

        Are you kidding?? Germany? The place they all escaped from?

        Again, it’s not about facts on the ground, its what Jewish Americans believe. They believe if the US government begins persecuting Jews, they can escape to Israel.

        The one problem is, if the US starts persecuting Jews, one of the first things that would stop would be the foreign aid. Then, assuming like other refugees, they are stripped of their property and sent to Israel penniless, how is Israel supposed to absorb such a huge needy population without outside help.

  4. rachelgolem
    June 29, 2011, 11:11 am

    The Jewish population of Israel has never gone down from one year to the next.

    The fact that Chinese, Korean and Russian citizens move to other countries does not mean these countries are going to collapse either.

  5. Dan Crowther
    July 1, 2011, 11:36 am

    I for one think making it impossible for Israeli’s to get EU or US passports is a idea worth trying. If they cant leave when they want, maybe they will vote differently – the transient nature of that country is part of the problem. I would make international travel and immigration extremely hard on Israeli’s. A taste of their own medicine. No sympathy whatsoever

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