Poll: One-third of Israelis Think About Leaving

Poll by Israel's Channel 2 reveals sense of despondency among many residents. Though most would never leave, attitudes on emigration soften.

Michal Sabah
Michal Sabah did research on Israeli emigration patterns prior to the latest poll. Emil Salman

Some 30 percent of Israelis would seriously consider leaving if they could, according to a poll commissioned by Israel's Channel 2, Israeli website Globes reported Sunday.

While the majority – 56 percent - responded that they would not leave Israeli even if they had the opportunity to do so, emigration is no longer the stigma in Israel it once was. Only 36 percent of respondents said they had a negative view of emigrants, according to Globes. The remainder was either neutral about emigration or even viewed it positively.

"I came to the conclusion that I simply couldn't take it anymore," explained Elad, who moved to Munich, Globes reported. "I can't explain it, but in Israel there's a feeling… I wouldn't say that there's no future, but that there's pressure, severe pressure all the time, wherever it comes from - rockets, taxes, the atmosphere in the streets, the overdraft at the bank. One day I just said to myself that I'd like something else."

The survey was conducted for Channel 2's Ulplan Shishi program.

"I'm a social worker. I'm fed up of being financed by my parents at the age of 27, but it's not just that," said Alon Aviram, who moved to London. "I want to be a family and relationship therapist, and that's something that I will succeed in doing more quickly here, and, amazingly enough, for less money, than I could do in Israel."

According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Israeli emigration hit a low in 2010, the last year for which numbers are available on Israelis who had not returned for more than a year. The emigration rate from Israel is considered low compared to that in other developed Western countries, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The people who seek to leave Israel do it after looking at opportunities overseas, usually in the United States, which is the destination of about 70% of [Israeli] emigrants,” Michal Sabbah, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told Haaretz in 2013 in response to the 2010 statistics. “And one can assume that the recurring news of instability in foreign economies in recent years compared to the relative stability in Israel is influencing Israelis looking to improve their economic and professional standing.”

No statistics are available yet to reflect more recent developments, such as Israel's war this summer in Gaza.