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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Survey: 500,000 North American Jews could immigrate


Survey: 500,000 North American Jews could immigrate
By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent

Some 500,000 Jews could potentially immigrate to Israel from North America over the next 15 years, according to a market survey conducted on behalf of the Jewish Agency.

The survey, conducted by a U.S. market research company, Harris, is believed to be the most comprehensive study carried out till now on the subject of the immigration intentions of North American Jews. The findings of the study were presented Wednesday for the first time at a convention of the Jewish Agency's board of trustees in Jerusalem.

The poll was carried out among a representative sample from the some 6.3 million Jews living in the United States and Canada. Around 1.5 percent of the respondents (representing some 100,000 individuals) said there was a high chance of their moving to Israel, permanently or temporarily, within the next five years. Approximately 6 percent of the respondents (representing some 400,000 individuals) expressed a willingness in principle to make a permanent or temporary move to Israel.

Ten percent of the respondents (representing some 700,000 people) expressed interest in a move to Israel.

An analysis of those interested in moving to Israel indicates that contrary to the belief of many, only one-third of these individuals are part of the Orthodox stream among U.S. Jewry. One-third define themselves as Conservative Jews, while the remainder classify themselves as Reform Jews or otherwise.

The survey was conducted among a representative sample numbering 1,690 adult Jews living in Canada and the United States. The study was initiated by an immigration-encouragement task force headed by businessman Didi Arazi, one of the owners of the Nice hi-tech company.

One of the participants at Wednesday's discussion commented that the numbers appeared somewhat inflated. "I couldn't understand how 100,000 people in North America are said to `have their bags packed' while just a few thousand immigrate from them in practice," he said.

Indeed, despite the fact that since 2001 there has been a consistent increase in the number of immigrants from the United States and Canada, the Jewish Agency believes that some 3,800 North American Jews at most will move to Israel in 2005.

Arazi says the numbers presented are not inflated, but that the answers of the respondents have to be interpreted cautiously and conservatively. "The 1.5 percent who said there is a good chance that they will move to Israel will not be immigrating tomorrow morning," Arazi said. "I would say they are ripe for immigration, but most of them won't immigrate if we aren't able to convince them to do so.

"If we do the work properly, we have a chance to bring 400,000-500,000 Jews to Israel by the year 2020," he continued.

Mike Rosenberg, the director of the Jewish Agency's Immigration Department, is aware that together with the promise reflected in the survey, its findings could lead to criticism of the Jewish Agency in the event that the rosy immigration forecasts fail to hold true.

"From now on, we won't have any more excuses," Rosenberg said.

http://israelperspectives.blogspot.com/






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