The rate of immigration to Israel has steadied in recent years, because Diaspora Jews face less pressure to leave their home countries for security or economic reasons, demographers say.
A total of 16,577 people immigrated to Israel in 2012, according to recently released figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Among them, 3,545 or 21% came from the Russian Federation, 2,432 or 15% from Ethiopia and 2,290 or 14% from the United States. The most popular place to settle was Jerusalem, followed by Haifa, Netanya and Tel Aviv.
The 2012 figure represents a slight dip from the previous year’s tally of 16,892, and from 16,633 the year before that. An average of 16,535 immigrants have moved to Israel each year during the past seven years.
Between 2000 and 2012, the average rate of immigration was 2.1 immigrants per 1,000 residents, down from 17 in the 1990s. Prof. Sergio DellPergola of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said the current rate reflects the relative security and prosperity enjoyed by Diaspora Jews.
“Most Jews in the world now live in developed western democracies, where there is little pressure to emigrate,” said DellaPergola, an expert on Jewish demography. “Economic crises or anti-Semitism do enhance Jewish migration, but not to the point that we have witnessed so many times in the past.”
A spokesman for the Jewish Agency noted that while immigration figures have leveled off, the number of participants in Birthright trips and Masa Israel programs has increased, “which is an excellent sign for aliyah in future years.”
Since its founding in 1948, Israel has absorbed 3.1 million immigrants, nearly 1 million of them between 1990 and 1999 when large waves of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants arrived or were brought to the country.