Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Israel braces for influx of new immigrants this summer

6 July 2009

By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz – 6 July 2009

Jewish immigrants
Jewish immigrants

After years of decline in immigration, Israel is expected this year to absorb 15 percent more new arrivals than last year, thanks in part to 20 flights arriving this summer carrying 5,000 immigrants from North America, France, Great Britain, South Africa and beyond.

Of these, some 3,000 immigrants will arrive on organized flights run jointly by the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh. Around 2,000 are expected from the United States and Canada.

Around 200 immigrants are expected to arrive from both France and Great Britain respectively, 130 from South Africa, and 100 from countries in Latin America. Some 250 Ethiopians recently recognized as Jews by rabbinical authorities will also immigrate.
All of the immigrants participating in the program will come in on special flights, including, for the first time, a flight designated for immigrants from Brazil. The first such flight will land in Israel on Tuesday.

For years, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency had competed for control of promoting immigration from North America, until signing an agreement last year stipulating that Nefesh B’Nefesh would be responsible for locating prospective immigrants and escorting them to Israel, while the Jewish Agency would fund their arrival and absorption.

Absorption figures have been in steady decline since 2000. Last year, only 16,500 immigrants arrived in the country, the lowest number since the start of the massive immigration wave from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Eli Cohen, head of the Jewish Agency’s department for immigration and absorption, cited the worldwide economic crisis as the primary motivator for the spike in immigration. “Israel is perceived as an island of stability compared with other places,” he said

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