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The Lost Year of the Zionist Dream: The Corona Crisis Stopped Immigration - Walla! news

2020-10-25T07:35:45.892Z

The virus has severely damaged health and the economy, and it does not miss the increase, which was almost completely interrupted by the crisis. Without language, educational frameworks and with an economic future full of fog - only the government can change reality



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The Lost Year of the Zionist Dream: The Corona Crisis Stopped Immigration

The virus has severely damaged health and the economy, and it does not miss the increase, which was almost completely interrupted by the crisis.

Without language, educational frameworks and with an economic future full of fog - only the government can change reality

Tags

  • Immigration

  • Zionism

  • the Jewish Agency

  • New immigrants

  • Corona virus

Juan Teifeld

Sunday, 25 October 2020, 09:24

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Photography: Yotam Ronen, Editing: Amit Simcha

The excellent Aliya Day every year on October 25, is usually a cause for optimism.

On this day, despite the difficulties faced by the state and even more so by those of the new immigrants, we miraculously commemorate the ultimate Zionist act - immigration to Eretz Israel.

But like many other areas, immigration is also likely to be hit hard by the corona crisis.



The virus has severely damaged health and the economy, and it is not missing out on immigration either.

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of new immigrants arriving in Israel: 26,000 in 2016, 28,000 in 2017, 30,000 in 2018 and a little more than 35,000 new immigrants in 2019. This trend was supposed to continue in 2020, but then broke out. The corona to our lives.



According to estimates by the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption and the Jewish Agency, immigration data only indicated last March an expected increase of between 50 and 100,000 immigrants in 2020.

But today these figures seem to belong to a different period.

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The downward trend in immigration is expected to continue.

New immigrants land at Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Reuven Castro)

Contrary to popular opinion and public discourse, the level of anti-Semitism in the country of origin is not the main factor that influences immigration trends in Israel over time.

As the researcher Sergio de la Pergola well defined it, there are two main reasons for immigration to Israel over the years: the level of economic development in relation to the immigrant's country of origin and the socio-economic level of the immigrant himself.

This means that the better the economic situation of the country of origin and the personal economic situation of the potential immigrant than his assessment of his situation in the destination country, the less likely he is to make an aliyah.



Even today, even before the end of the current year, it can be estimated that 2020 will be a "lost year" in everything related to immigration to Israel.

From January to August 2020, only about 13,000 immigrants immigrated to the State of Israel, compared with about 24,000 in the corresponding period last year.

This is a 45% decrease, which worsened as a result of the first closure.

The figures for the second closure have not yet been published, but it makes sense that they will further exacerbate this trend.

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To the full article

The situation is very worrying.

The serious health and economic situation in which Israel finds itself leads to the postponement of immigration among many potential immigrants.

We are witnessing closed consulates in the former Soviet Union, a fact that creates a bottleneck for many immigrants from Russia and Ukraine in particular.

In addition, the transition to online services makes it very difficult for a large proportion of older immigrants.



In the current situation today, immigration becomes an even more difficult task than the difficulty in normal periods.

An immigrant arrives in a new country, without language and without familiarity with the local culture.

Upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, he will also enter the isolation and reality of closure. His children will not have orderly study frameworks, since the education system is closed. He himself has no employment horizon at unprecedented local unemployment levels.

Moreover, new immigrants are not entitled to unemployment benefits at all because they have not yet had time to work, and therefore they depend only on an absorption basket that is not sufficient for a basic life.

In this sense, the Minister of Immigration and Absorption did well to obtain special one-time support for new immigrants who arrived during the Corona period.

But this assistance is not enough and is not a systemic solution.



The downward trend in immigration is expected to continue.

It can be estimated that this trend will accompany us at least in the coming year, possibly even more.

The good news is that despite the harsh reality of the Corona, there is something to be done: Israel must prepare differently and provide an integral envelope in encouraging and absorbing new immigrants.

This means that the organizations that deal with immigration must ensure that the immigrants can go through a period of optimal absorption of one to two years, in absorption centers or in direct absorption.



The Corona sharpens the insight that aliyah to Israel does not begin with the departure of the new immigrant from the plane at Ben Gurion Airport, but long before that. To teach them basic Hebrew? High-level studios must be operated even before they immigrate to Israel in the countries of origin themselves.

The government must take the issue of immigration as a national project

Why wait to find employment only while in Israel?

The skills of the immigrants can be diagnosed even before they immigrate to Israel.

Care must be taken to properly guide the immigrants upon their arrival in Israel, and to create for them an economic and employment horizon, easy and material in such a difficult reality of uncertainty.



The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption must take this issue as a national project, to save immigration to Israel.

The social organizations, which perform extensive and important work, are not a substitute for the responsibility and much greater power of the state.

Israir flight with new immigrants that landed last summer (Photo: Israir spokeswoman)

Many talk about Israel as a "start-up nation" - we are all often proud of it, but not many remember that this would not have happened without the last significant wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union, in the early 1990s.



Although for many years the state treated immigrants as needy, today many of them are highly educated people, who can work in high-tech, open a bridge to international companies for Israeli companies, and provide great value to many companies in Israel.



Immigrants are a tremendous asset for the benefit of society and the economy - all that is needed is to help them and especially at the beginning of their journey.

Their success is our success.

This is true Zionism in these complex days.



The author is the CEO of Gevahim, an association for the absorption of immigrants founded by the Rashi Foundation.

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Source: walla

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