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