Israel should prepare for another mass immigration – report

The large gap in birth rates between non-Orthodox and Orthodox/ultra Orthodox means increasing fundamentalist Jewish populations over time, with a range of implications in Israel and elsewhere:

Israel should prepare for a potential mass wave of immigration to the country amid increased antisemitism, according to the “2019 Annual Assessment of the Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish People Today.”

The report, prepared by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) and presented by the institute’s leaders to the cabinet on Sunday, warned of the spread of antisemitism around the world. They said that if not enough is done to strengthen the security of Jewish communities, they could experience “significant harm.”

“Some Jews are considering immigration to Israel or elsewhere, while others may give up their Jewish identity,” according to the report. The report warned the government that as antisemitic incidents proliferate, “the Israeli government must prepare appropriately for potential immigration, especially from European countries.”

According to the report, the main barriers that cause prospective olim to reconsider aliyah to Israel have to do with employment, children’s education and housing. As such, JPPI recommended that the employment barrier could be addressed by providing career guidance and degree recognition even before olim have left their home countries as well as through job placement programs.

“The relevant immigrant populations are, for the most part, highly educated and economically strong,” said JPPI in its report. “There can be no doubt that such investment would be profitable and feasible for the Israeli economy.”

In addition, JPPI’s president Avinoam Bar-Yosef called on the government to set up a coordinating body to confront growing antisemitism that could monitor trends, assess threats and risks, and initiate action with governments.

Specifically, this body could “formulate an overall policy; set operational initiatives in motion vis-à-vis governments, Jewish communities, and other relevant parties; coordinate implementation between the various relevant bodies; and monitor effectiveness,” the report said. 

“The entity will launch initiatives in the spheres of education, legislation/law, diplomacy, hasbara [publicity/informational activity], the new media, security in the communities and more.”

The report rehashed earlier data, which demonstrates that antisemitism is rising by every metric. The number of antisemitic incidents has risen around the world, including in the United States, where the FBI reported that Jews are the most targeted religion-based group by hate crimes.

Bar-Yosef likewise highlighted changing demographics in the US, citing growth among the Orthodox communities, where this population among the younger age cohorts is already roughly 30% in some communities.

“We can expect significant implications from the growth of the Orthodox population in the long run,” he said. While the average birth rate among non-Orthodox Jewish women is 1.4 children, the average rate among Modern Orthodox women is more than three children, and is more than five for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women.

For non-Orthodox Jews, JPPI found that intermarriage with non-Jews is the norm today. Among non-ultra-Orthodox Jews in America (aged 25-54), 58% of those married are married to non-Jews and only about half of the offspring of such couples are raised as Jews.

JPPI recommended that in addition to strengthening relations with the Reform and Conservative denominations, Israel should “encourage and support increased involvement of the Orthodox in the leadership of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, American society and politics, in order to preserve Jewish influence in the general public.”

If not, according to the institute, “the new demographic may erode the influence of the Jewish community in America.”

Source: Israel should prepare for another mass immigration – report

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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