Former Soviet Union immigrants attend a rally.
(photo credit: ELIANA APONTE/REUTERS)
Israel is not doing enough to take full advantage of the capabilities and talents of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer said on Friday.
“Israel failed in the 1970s, failed in the 1980s, failed in this in the 1990s, and continues to fail at this even today,” he said in an interview with journalist Elena Lagutina at the Limmud FSU 2017 conference in Eilat this past weekend.
According to Singer, part of the absorption failure stems from the state not having set sufficient “challenges” that would entice such immigrants to remain in the country.
“We need to invest more in education and in setting up challenges, so that all the people who have come here in numbers and can find themselves anywhere in the world, remain in Israel,” he said.
Singer, who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine in 1972, also called on Russian immigrants to take a more active role in politics.
“One of the mistakes of my generation was that we did not want political influence,” he said. “In retrospect, this immigration brought a lot of talented people... who were busy surviving. I want to say that active participation in civil and political life in Israel is critical.”
He further stressed the importance of education, calling it “the future of the Jewish people.”
Singer, who served in the IDF as a lieutenant colonel, added: “I think that the IDF has outstanding commanders and I think that this is the best education.”
Since 1990, some 3.2 million immigrants have arrived in Israel, the vast majority – some 77% – coming from the former Soviet Union, according to a study published last week by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
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