Magazine

The descent threat

Recent events have coincided to reignite public discourse over ‘yerida’

Ben Gurion Airport Departures Lounge
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons
Every few years or so, public consciousness focuses – somewhat hysterically – on the issue of emigration from Israel. Also referred to in its negative Hebrew formulation as “descent” (yerida ), or at other times as “brain drain” when those being considered are the best and brightest, it is seen as a major threat to Zionism.

Triggers for the most recent bout of collective hand-wringing included the revelation that two of the three Jewish scientists awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry were Israeli expatriates living in California; and a Channel 10 series called Hayordim Hahadashim (The New Emigrants), portraying Israelis – particularly of the young, secular and educated variety – in pursuit of socioeconomic comfort, particularly in Berlin but also in London and New Jersey. And there was another annual report by Prof. Dan Ben-David of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Public Policy, the executive director of the Taub Center, reflecting on the “catastrophic consequences” of the “hemorrhaging of leading minds.”



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