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Israelis and Immigrants: A Love-Hate Relationship

What do Israelis think about immigrants? A new survey, commissioned by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, reveals something of a love-hate relationship.

The majority of the population — some 73% — thinks that immigration is vital for the state. This is presumably primarily due to what many Israelis consider the need to boost the Jewish demographic in Israel.

Nevertheless, Israelis see a clash between national and personal priorities. Some 30% of Israeli-born respondents think that immigration makes it harder to find housing and 35% think that makes it tougher to find work.

Immigrants are also thought responsible for crime, with 52% of Israeli-born respondents saying that immigrants have a negative effect on crime. The high figure on crime may well be connected to recent the arrest of immigrants for high-profile crimes and the ensuing discussion about immigration laws and crime, which was reported here.

Respondents deemed immigrants have hardly any effect on the economy (despite their belief that they have an effect on job seeking). This is ironic given that Israel’s ability to weather the economic crisis is widely put down to the efforts of a US immigrant for whom the general public has great fondness — Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fisher.

One finding that will fascinate any American who has visited Israel, and perhaps on the basis of time spent in heavily-Anglo Jerusalem or Tel Aviv gotten the impression that there is a strong presence of Western immigrants and Anglos specifically, across the country. Some 42% of Israeli-born respondents say they never come in to contact with Western immigrants.

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