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February 14, 1986 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-02-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

33

LIFE IN ISRAEL

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Art By Giora Carmi

Are Jews Leaving
Why Are
The Promised Land?

With half a million Israelis living abroad,
and the Jewish homeland losing some of
its best and brightest, Israel is trying to
entice the emigres home.

BY HELEN DAVIS •
Special to The Jewish News

One of the most painful
problems in Israel — so pain-
ful that it is rarely spoken of
— is not war, terrorism,
unemployment, the economy,
anti-Semitism or even the
Holocaust. It is the subject of
Jewish emigration. And this
year, the number of depart-
ing Israelis is expected to
make a quantum leap.
Already, it is estimated
that half a million Israelis are
living abroad, mostly in the
United States. A further
30,000 are expected to join
them this year, more than
four times the number that
left in 1984. Suddenly, the
taboo subject of emigration is
on everyone's agenda.
Israel's founding fathers
believed that the establish-
ment of the Jewish state
would mark the beginning of
the longed-for "ingathering
of the exiles." The struggles,
the hardships and the dangers
that faced the early pioneers
were all made tolerable by the
dream of a Jewish state on its
ancient-soil which would pro-
vide a refuge and a homeland
for Jews from all corners of
the earth.
Indeed, the Jews did arrive

after the state was estab-
lished in 1948. Within a few
years, the Jewish population
of 600,000 was more than
doubled by refugees who
streamed out of Arab coun-
tries and displaced persons'
camps in post-war Europe.
And while a large percentage
of Soviet Jews chose not to
settle in Israel, the Jewish
state did provide a home for
tens of thousands.
But the ingathering of
Jews from the free world
never even approached the
expectations of those early
pioneers.
To be sure, Jews in the
West have demonstrated
their solidarity by lobbying
their politicians, sending
messages of support in times
of trouble and giving money.
But for the vast majority,
commitment stopped short of
actually settling in the land
of their forefathers.
Israelis, who now number
over four million, have long
since accepted that Jews liv-
ing in affluent andlospitable
lands are not about to ex-
change a life of ease for a life
of uncertainty and danger.

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