Immigration rebounded in Israel last year thanks to arrivals from Ukraine. The number of arrivals is expected to be 5% higher than the previous year, according to the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
In 2016, we saw immigration drop by 13% due to a sharp decrease in Jews arriving from France. The sharp decline came after years of record-high immigration from France due to anti-Semitism and economic issues. Many French Jews have since returned back to France. Relocation can be difficult for some families, particularly those that leave the rest of their families behind.
Last year, Israel welcomed 6,700 immigrants from Ukraine. That’s 14% more than the previous year.
Israel is also seeing an influx of immigrants from Brazil, with many Jews fleeing the country due to economic downturn and concern for their own personal safety.
What does all of this mean for Israel? An increase in immigration could be a bane for the economy. But it may also be problematic in other ways.
In early 2017, Isaac Herzog said Israel needs to be prepared for an influx of American Jewish immigrants fleeing anti-Semitism. Last year, immigration from the United States remained steady, with about 2,900 American Jews moving to Israel.
Of course, that may change if policies and the political landscape changes over the next year. With DACA being in the forefront of the news and the White House’s “America first” stance, Israel may see a greater number of immigrants from the U.S.
An influx of American immigrants may be beneficial for the economy, but there are other concerns. The American standard of having a large home with a big backyard would continue to put pressure on Israel’s already-struggling housing market.
That may be a small price to pay for welcoming educated workers who may give the economy much-desired skills. American immigrants would also bring a lot of capital.
But for American Jews to pack up their bags and move to Israel – in waves – it would have to be because of a significant political event that would likely be threatening to Israel’s interests. That’s why people are immigrating from Ukraine and Brazil. That’s why Jews immigrated from France in recent years.
While officials say its immigration policies have been a success, Israel is dealing with its own crisis. The border wall may have slowed the flow of illegal immigrants, but the country is still dealing with the ones that made it to the other side before the wall was built. There are roughly 40,000 African migrants in Israel that have been stuck in limbo for years.
Many fled the harsh political environment in Eritrea or the war and genocide in Sudan. Human rights organizations argue that the migrants are in Israel out of fear of persecution in their home countries. The Israeli government argues they are here for work.
Now, Israel is preparing to send many migrants back to Africa. The Jewish state was intended to be a safe-haven for Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in the Middle East and Europe. But the issue is far more complex than simply sending these individuals back to the countries from which they fled.
So while immigration in Israel is rebounding, there are other issues at hand with those who are already in limbo in the country.