A recent article by Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, makes the case for Israel’s Diaspora having waned. He shows, with the help of immigration statistics, how the 90s reached the apex of aliyah, thanks to a large Russian Jewry exodus from the former Soviet Union. North American Jewry, perhaps dismayed by growing economic troubles in the United States, were opting for a new life in Israel. He notes that with the resurgence of USA’s economy in recent years, coupled with Israel’s seemingly unsolvable political hazards, American Jews have decided to stay put.
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A well-researched article chock-full-of-statistics showing why N. American aliya has already seen his high-point in the 90s and how it’s all downhill from here.
But how much is aliyah relevant to the survival of Israel? Likewise, the author focuses on the economic prosperity of USA and Canada, and the political juggernaut in Israel, as the main reasons why less and less Jews are coming back to their homeland. However, as we’ve seen in the past (ie. Collapse of Soviet Union), a political event in the Diaspora can just easily send hundreds of thousands of Jews packing and gunning for Israel. Take the current crisis in Ukraine, or the overall outlook for Western European Jewry, including the 500,000 French Jews. If the situation rapidly worsens there, it’s feasible that many would jump en masse to Israel.
Next point – Jewish births in Israel have nearly doubled in 20 years. In 1996, there were 83,710 Jews born, and in 2013 the number had risen to 128,507. In fact, Israel population boom has been happening for 2 decades, much of it thanks to the Russian aliyah. What’s more is that the Jewish birth rate has steadily risen, and the Arab Israeli birth rate has declined. Arabs have dropped to 3.5 and Jews have risen to almost 3 births avg. Chalk it up to “self-actualization”?
At this rate of natural Jewish population growth, and decline in Arab population growth, aliyah is a “nice to have”, “the brothers return home”, but certainly not a showstopper.