'A third of secular Israeli Jews want to move abroad'

"The fact that so many people say they would leave the country if they could indicates that many Israeli citizens do not feel a sense of belonging to the state."

March 20, 2017 16:09
2 minute read.
El Al

An El Al airliner.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Some 36% of secular Israeli Jews would move abroad given the opportunity, according to a poll released by Masa Israeli – Israeli Roots Odyssey ahead of its fourth conference held at the Knesset on Monday.

The poll of 509 Israeli Jews was conducted over the phone by Midgam Consulting and Research, with a reported margin of error of 4.5%.

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Secular respondents made up the largest group responding in the affirmative to the question: “If you had the possibility of migrating from Israel to another country would you leave?” Some 27% of respondents said they were certain they would leave or think they would. Of those, 6.9% identified as religious, 20% haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and 23.4% as traditional.

Those most likely to express a wish to leave were single, secular men between the ages of 23-29.

“The fact that so many people say they would leave the country if they could indicates that many Israeli citizens do not feel a sense of belonging to the state,” Masa Israeli CEO Uri Cohen said. “This is an alarming statistic that obligates us all to deal with this difficult issue.”

Another finding of the poll concerns the sense of identity of Israeli Jews. Respondents were asked whether they categorize themselves as Jewish or Israeli. One hundred percent of haredim, 90.3% of religious and 82.9% of traditional respondents overwhelmingly saw themselves as Jewish first. The secular camp was divided, with 53% selecting Jewish and 43.6% Israeli (3% said they did not know ,and 4% chose neither).

Cohen said the data pointed to problems among a growing number of Israelis in sense of identity; belonging; and connection to the nation, land and State of Israel. “This is already creating division” in society, he said.

Monday’s conference sought to tackle these issues by developing “a deep and meaningful discourse as a society and nation to find a shared way and future together here in this country.”

Participants of the conference included: Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi), Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) and former Peace Now director-general Yariv Oppenheimer.

Masa Israeli is a nonprofit organization invested in reinforcing individual, Jewish and Zionist identities while strengthening the connection and sense of belonging to the people, land and State of Israel, as well as to the communities from which they come.

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