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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Population implosion?

Young Jewish people wave the Israeli flag in Jerusalem

Israel seeks to boost Jewish population
From AFP
ASHDOD, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urged Jews worldwide to migrate on Tuesday as his government unveiled new incentives to woo back expats and reverse declining immigration.

"Come and join us here because it's the best place to live," Olmert told the opening of an immigration conference in the southern city of Ashdod.

Under a new campaign for 2008, the immigration and absorption ministry said it was looking to repatriate 15,000 Israelis living abroad and bring in 20,000 new Jewish immigrants next year.

More than half a million Israelis live abroad. The ministry said it would offer a series of cash incentives and tax breaks to encourage them back.

"These Israelis won't have the difficulties facing new immigrants in integrating. We should use economic arguments to encourage them to return," Immigrant Absorption Minister Yaacov Edri told AFP at the conference.

"We seem to be going in the right direction. I hope aliya (immigration) statistics will double in 2008," he said.

The rate of immigration is set to fall this year to the lowest level since 1988, with only 14,843 new immigrants since January 2007 compared to 19,624 in 2006, according to ministry statistics.

The ministry also advocates simplified conversion procedures. Half of the estimated 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not considered Jewish in the eyes of the country's Orthodox Rabbinate.

Under Israel's "law of return," anyone who is Jewish or has a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse, or is the spouse of someone with such a Jewish relative provided he did not voluntarily convert from Judaism, can settle in Israel.

Of the 7.1-million-strong population of Israel, 76 percent is Jewish and 20 percent Arab.

Mr Bagel: With the declining rate of immigration, surely the time has come for Olmert to explore the possible reasons for this decline?

One factor may be the political instability currently present in Israel, another might be that some legitimate seekers of Aliyah are not really being welcomed the way you would expect, especially from the US. The process is bound in red tape, there's little genuine support offered to prospective immigrants until actual arrival.

Should the Aliyah program be expanded and assistance provided to the Jewish Populations in other countries such as Australia and Argentina?

What are you thoughts as to why immigration is on the decline?

Israel seeks to boost Jewish population


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