Aliah Yerida 298.
(photo credit: )
'Reasons of the soul' for Israelis living abroad to return to Israel, such as a feeling of belonging and the importance of family, will be stressed in the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption's intensified campaign to bring former residents back home.
According to statistics gathered by the ministry there was a dramatic increase in the number of Israelis returning home in 2005. Moreover, a greater number of Israelis moved back to Israel last year than new immigrants arriving from the United States and Western Europe.
Dr. Lilach Lev Ari conducted the study, the first to delve into the motivation of Israelis who emigrate. It questioned 500 Israelis who had returned to Israel between 1999 and 2003 and who had lived abroad for more than two years.
The findings showed that 62 percent of those
questioned did not hold any strong emotional
connection to the country where they had been living.
They said that while they had left Israel in the hopes of furthering their careers or improving their quality of life, their motivations for returning to Israel were more to do with being close to family, giving their children better educational values and because Israel was the one place they felt at home.
"We call these the reasons of the soul," said ministry spokeswoman Tamar Abramovitch. "It came up again and again that Israel is their true home." She said that the ministry had recently stepped up its efforts to encourage Israelis to return home and it would now use the findings to design a global advertising campaign.
Besides finding out what encouraged Israelis to return home, the survey discovered that once here, settling back into their old lifestyle was extremely difficult.
"Returning to live in Israel for Israelis is not as easy as one might think," said Abramovitch. "The research told us that a lot of people who return feel they are not welcomed back into Israeli society."
Sixty-one percent of those questioned in the research said that although they had kept in touch with friends in Israel while they were away, when they returned home they did not feel they belonged to the community around them. Fifty-nine percent of those returning said they planned to stay permanently in Israel and 13% said that they would probably leave again at some point in the future.
"If we can help returning Israelis to feel comfortable and succeed financially, then they are more likely to stay here," said Abramovitch, noting that there are many factors making it difficult for returning citizens to get settled.
They do not receive the same immigration package as new immigrants and until recently had to pay a large health bill, she said.
She added that the ministry was now striving to reach those returning as soon as they arrived in the country, offering them guidance, counseling and even financial help in starting up their own businesses.
Abramovitch said that armed with the results of this study, the ministry would not only be able to focus on bringing Israelis back home but would also help them stay here once they arrived in the country.