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Immigrants from the West integrate into Israeli society faster than any other groups of newcomers, according to a new immigration index released Monday.
The Central Bureau of Statistics released the index - examining immigrants' standard of living, social integration, and employment successes - as part of its annual conference on aliya and absorption. An additional, subjective section on identity and satisfaction is to be added next year.
Some 51 percent of Western immigrants hold professional positions, similar to 58% of the native Ashkenazi population. When it comes to education, they do better than any other group, with 51.2% holding at least one university degree. Only 40% of the next highest group, Israeli-born Ashkenazim, have degrees.
The figures were culled from Central Bureau of Statistics surveys of 7,212 Israelis (49.8% of them immigrants) and analyzed by the Immigration and Social Integration Institute at the Rupin Academic Center.
Ronit Dolev, associate director for the institute, called the findings about Western immigrants "fantastic." She suggested that their more successful absorption stemmed from "what they brought with them."
It is "an educated aliya, an aliya that prepared itself better, an aliya that came with the funds to buy a house. They came prepared to move forward," she said.
She noted that the average time Western immigrants had been in Israel was only eight years, shorter than for any other kind of immigrant, yet they were much more likely to resemble native Israelis when it came to standard of living and economic characteristics.
According to the index, Ethiopian immigrants lag behind, as do the children of those who immigrated from North African and Asian countries soon after the founding of the state.
"With the aliya of the 1950s, we see a second and third generation still in difficulty," Dolev said, stressing that their situation needed to be examined so that "the same mistakes aren't made with the Ethiopians."
Dolev was particularly troubled by the surveys of former Soviet Union immigrants, defined as those who arrived after 1989. The index found that not only were they less satisfied with life in Israel than other groups, but they also didn't expect their situation to change. "A large group of people is in despair," she said.
"The Ethiopian aliya is a much more optimistic aliya," said Dolev. "Even though there are lots of difficulties, they are optimistic, and that's a great force for integration."
Still, Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski declared that "the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants is especially hard. If the society does not make a tremendous effort in their absorption, their fate will be sealed."
He continued, "We must dedicate ourselves to this mission or we will pay a heavy price in the course of the next 10 years."
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