Huge rise in Jewish migration to Israel from former Soviet countries

Jewish Agency figures show 434 per cent increase in arrivals from region in first two months of 2023, compared to last year

This picture taken on June 23, 2020 shows a general view of the skyline of buildings in Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv in the early evening. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
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More than 90 per cent of Jewish immigrants to Israel in January and February came from countries of the former Soviet Union, according to Jewish Agency figures.

Of the total of 11,516 immigrants from former Soviet states in the first months of 2023, the vast majority — 10,203 arrivals — came from Russia, amid the economic and political consequences of the war in Ukraine, reported The Jerusalem Post.

Migration from Belarus and Ukraine rose by 229 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively. Migration from the other former Soviet Union countries increased by 239 per cent.

There was a 434 per cent increase in arrivals from the region compared with the same two months in 2022, said the agency, which represents Jews worldwide and “provides the global framework for Aliyah” — a Hebrew term for immigration to Israel.

Migration from western countries, however, dropped. France, home to Europe's largest Jewish community, saw a 60 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year.

The total number of immigrants to Israel through the Jewish Agency in the first two months of 2023 was 12,658, the figures showed.

Israel has long-standing policies to encourage Jewish immigration, with an entire ministry devoted to the subject.

The country's 1950 Law of Return, which gives anyone with a Jewish grandparent the right to Israeli citizenship, has been a topic of debate in recent times.

Israel's far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has called for it to be amended, describing what he believes to be its lax criteria as a “Jewish time bomb that must be dealt with”.

Religious parties in the country's new right-wing government say that only people with at least one Jewish parent should be eligible.

Updated: March 16, 2023, 12:06 AM