This September marks my 25th Aliyah Anniversay. I well remember my internal deliberations on leaving a good banking position in the City (of London), having until then decided that I was not cut out for a major career change in orange picking. Chance played its part and on a purely courtesy visit to a (Group) colleague in Tel Aviv during Pesach of that year, I was offered a good banking job on the spot! Major hurdle overcome, not that I spoke the language then, formal aliyah followed during Succot of that year.
Many countries in the world today have taken an anti-immigrant stance that varies from the relatively benign “viewed with distaste” to the aggressive “send them back”. Not surprisingly there are exceptions for wealthy immigrants wishing to bring and invest their capital, ranging from Investor Visas to, for example, Resident Non-Domicile status in the UK. Israel is something of an exception in that it actively encourages both types of immigrants and indeed has an official organization, whose raison d’etre is to actively recruit them. Whilst historically many immigrants to Israel have come as a result of flight from their countries of origin, this Century has seen the growth of immigration as a result of choice.
I have been a witness to two distinct groups coming to live in my City during the last two decades. On the one hand there are singles and young marrieds (some with small children), the majority of whom are University graduates. On the other hand there are people coming to retire (to what is a beautiful Mediterranean Sea-facing city), in many cases following family members in the former group. Both groups bring strong economic benefits to Israel.
The young are very well-educated, some already with experience in their fields, highly motivated, proudly Zionist, determined to build lives for their families and contribute to the development of Israel in both economic and social spheres. Their energy and abroad-orientated skills are on view in Israel’s already successful and ever growing hi-tech / bio-tech sectors – many are employed in the sales, marketing, customer support, legal, finance, research and development spheres. Their abilities and foreign contacts, coupled with native-born Israelis’ drive, genius and chutzpah, make for a dynamic partnership in the local business scene to the benefit of all. Their earnings and any “business exit” proceeds are retained in Israel.
Those coming to retire add a different and complementary dimension. On the one hand the State’s 10-year tax breaks on various forms of income and capital and no Inheritance Tax (Estate Duty), act as a powerful economic magnet to immigrate. The purchase of real estate and entry of pension monies to Israel, which would otherwise have stayed abroad, are a significant boost to the local economy. But it is not only the financial boost that marks them out. I know several retired private investors and former senior business executives, who have joined the Boards of start-up companies and use their skills and contacts to assist in the development of those businesses. On a “social/community” level, there is scarcely a charitable endeavour in my City that does not benefit from scores of volunteers.This includes anything from assisting the teaching of English in the local schools, delivering meals-on-wheels to the house-bound, hospital visiting, the provision of bursaries for students and much much more. All in their way saving the always hard-pressed education and welfare services significant resources.
Hoping to welcome many more such immigrants every day!