Israel Targets Millionaires in Bid to Up Aliyah

Slew of Tax Breaks Aimed at Spurring Immigration From the West

By Nathan Guttman

Published March 27, 2008, issue of April 04, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Jerusalem - The search for new ways to promote Jewish immigration to Israel has led policymakers in Jerusalem to target a new group of potential olim: Jewish millionaires.

LEVIEV: Mogul left for London.
LEVIEV: Mogul left for London.

On March 13, the Finance Ministry rolled out a new plan promising financial incentives and a generous tax-benefit package for Jews seeking to take their fortune to the Holy Land.

“This plan will enhance the human capital, will broaden the basis of knowledge and experience in the various fields of economy, and will stimulate Israel’s economic activity,” Finance Minister Roni Bar-On said in unveiling the new program.

Facing a steady decline in the number of immigrants coming to Israel, policymakers have been looking for creative ways to make aliyah more attractive for those who are not fleeing hardship and persecution. Immigration was down to less than 20,000 in 2007, with more than half of all immigrants coming from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and the decline in immigration is expected to deepen this year.

Most of the ideas being tossed around in Jerusalem are focused on bringing in immigrants from Western countries, a target demographic that has proved to be more elusive than the emigrants from countries plagued by antisemitism that have traditionally made up the bulk of olim.

On March 25, the Knesset hosted the inaugural meeting of the Caucus for Western Aliyah, which will work on promoting “immigration of choice” and will aid the absorption of Western Jews in Israel. This year, the Absorption Ministry will allocate $25 million for promoting aliyah from around the world.

The recent decision of diamond tycoon Lev Leviev to give up on living in Israel has shed a harsh light on just how difficult it is to bring in, and keep, affluent Jews. Leviev relocated to London in January, blaming his decision on the secular character of the State of Israel and on what he described as the “the new American religion” replacing traditional Jewish values.

Though Leviev did not point to economic difficulties as his primary reason for leaving Israel, his departure was seen as a blow to Israel’s business community and as a possible indication that Israel might not be a natural homeland for Jewish entrepreneurs.

While the Israeli government did not limit the new incentive plan to Diaspora Jews and former Israelis of significant wealth, the program is, by all appearances, tailored to the needs of multimillionaires. It offers tax exemption for 10 years on all income derived from sources outside Israel, provides newcomers with a year to choose to which country they want to pay taxes, and will not mandate that firms owned by new immigrants be registered as Israeli firms.

Government officials quoted in the Israeli press said that while they do not expect an influx in Jewish millionaire olim, they do believe that the new plan can prove attractive for former Israelis in the high-tech industry who might be looking for ways to return after establishing their business overseas.

The new plan is “revolutionary,” Absorption Minister Yaakov Edri said, because it combines for the first time “immigration out of Zionist motivation with immigration out of financial motivation.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.