One in four Israelis believes that immigrants from the former Soviet Union have
been bad for society. This, according to a survey released on Monday by Shatil –
The New Israel Fund, marking the 20th anniversary of the start of the massive
The survey, conducted by the Geocartography research
group among 500 Jewish adults ahead of Shatil’s 20 years of immigration
conference, found that 55 percent of the population thinks that the immigrants
from the former Soviet Union integrated well into society.RELATED:Wikileaks: Russia sees Lieberman as 'one of their own' Bill Clinton claims Russian immigrants obstacle to peace
percent of the respondents said the FSU immigrants have had a positive or very
positive influence on society and 22% said the influence was neither positive
Survey participants were asked whether they thought a
majority of the immigrants had integrated into the labor force in accordance
with their level of education and professional experience or whether they were
employed in jobs that are inferior to what their education and experience could
afford them. The results showed that 43% of respondents chose the latter
response, with only 35% saying that the immigrants are employed in positions
that are suitable to their skills.
When asked whether they would support
their children marrying an immigrant from the FSU, 24% said they would strongly
support the move, 19% they would somewhat support it, 305 said they would
neither support or reject it and 14% said they would either reject or strongly
reject such a union.
Support for such a marriage increased among people
with academic degrees and those who defined themselves as
Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the fact that immigrants
who were not halachically Jewish failed to convert to Judaism made it more
difficult for them to integrate into society. Thirteen percent said failure to
convert made it slightly more difficult to integrate and 18% said it had no
Milana Yaari, an immigrant from the FSU and a Shatil employee who
works with immigrant youth, said that 20 years later, many immigrants were still
struggling with integration difficulties.
“The question that underlies
the survey and the conference we’re holding is whether the FSU immigrants are
Russian-speaking Israelis or Hebrew-speaking Russians? The very question
indicates that integrate has not been totally successful.
Even after 20
years, immigrants still face obstacles in integration. Part of it is because of
the immigrants’ own attitudes and behaviors, but a big part is unwillingness on
the part of Israeli society as a whole to fully adopt the immigrants into its
midst,” she said.
Yaari said that there are still stereotypes and
misconceptions in the general public that prevent FSU immigrants from full
integration in the job market.
“We know that people with Russian-sounding
names or people whose resumes state that they speak Russian are treated
Even if they came here as children and subsequently were
educated in the Israeli school system, served in the military and attended
Israeli universities or colleges, they are still seen as new immigrants and face
a glass ceiling in terms of the positions that are offered to them,” she
Yaari said that while in hitech or medicine, immigrant background
tended not to matter so much, when it other fields, immigrants and even children
of immigrants tended to be steered toward positions that would have them
interfacing with the immigrant population.
“People get labeled as
immigrants and that is the only prism through which they are seen,” she said.