Fewer Israelis Immigrate to U.S.

Driven by Economy, Ex-Patriates Also Return to Israel

By Nathan Guttman

Published April 19, 2012, issue of April 27, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

kurt hoffman

Lev Ari, who studies Israeli emigration patterns, does not think that recent trends will have long-term effects on Israelis’ relocation tendencies. After all, studies show that Israelis living abroad are motivated by a drive to improve their financial situation and to find better employment opportunities. She surmises that once the American economy regains momentum Israelis will be in line for visas at the U.S. embassy once again.

According to the USCIS, more than 47,000 Israeli natives have received Green Cards in the past decade. Israeli estimates put the number of citizens living abroad anywhere between 550,000 and nearly 1 million.

The U.S. numbers count only those who have formally requested, and been granted, immigration status. They do not include those on temporary work visas or those living undocumented in the United States.

The issue of emigration can be a sore spot for Israelis, some of whom equate the move with the rejection of the Zionist dream. In Israel, it is common to portray those who have moved away in negative terms, often calling them “yordim,” meaning those who have descended.

A controversial ad campaign was launched in an attempt to make Israeli expatriates consider returning to Israel before their children lose touch with Jewish and Israeli culture. At the same time, Israel’s Ministry of Immigration Absorption has been offering assistance, tax breaks and support for those who return home.

Ella Saban, director of the department for returning Israelis at the Absorption Ministry, said that since launching the reabsorption effort in 2006 the number of Israelis coming back has doubled and is now in the range of 9,000 a year.

“We can clearly see the influence” of the economic situation, Saban said. “When the world went through an economic crisis in 2009, we saw more Israelis interested in returning home.”

In Israel, the unemployment rate is 5.4%; in the U.S., it’s 8.2%.

Economic factors aside, Israeli officials also point to the increase in the number of American Jews moving to Israel. Since the economic collapse, emigration of Americans to Israel has grown incrementally and now stands at more than 3,000 new immigrants a year.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • 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?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • 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.