Drum Roll, Please....
Jewish Agency: Immigration from West hits all-time record level
By Amiram Barkat
The number of immigrants from Western countries has hit a record high this year, although overall immigration is stabilizing, according to statistics for 2005 released Monday by the Jewish Agency.Some 23,000 people have moved to Israel this year, 4 percent more than in 2004. By contrast, immigration from North America has risen by 15 percent since last year and immigration from France has risen by 23 percent in the same period.
The number of immigrants has remained relatively stable, however, due to a 10-percent decrease in immigration from the former Soviet Union. The increase in immigration from the West is attributed to the activity of organizations in France and North America that provide grants to Jews who move to Israel.
There has also been an increase in the number of Israelis who had moved abroad but returned to Israel this year.Some 5,700 Israelis moved back here in 2005, an increase of about 13 percent since last year, according to statistics released Monday by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. The reason is thought to be linked to an improvement in the Israeli economy and a decrease in terror.Ministry officials say they think the number of returning Israelis is actually double what the official statistics show, because only about half report their return. The ministry is planning to expand its activities in areas in the United States where many Israelis live, and is to open a branch in Philadelphia.
This year has also seen a 37 percent increase in the amount of Jewish students from abroad who study in Israel under the Masa program. Some 5,500 students participated in the program in 2005, the Jewish Agency said.