New immigrants increasingly choose to live in Jerusalem

Aliya to Jerusalem has increased significantly in past 10 years, meaning the city has absorbed about 2,300 immigrants each year.

March 17, 2011 05:31
2 minute read.
NEW IMMIGRANTS disembark from special El Al flight

Nefesh B'Nefesh flight mother and kids 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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One out of every 10 residents in Jerusalem is an immigrant who has arrived in Israel in the past 20 years, the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs announced on Tuesday at a special meeting examining aliya to the nation’s capital.

Jerusalem is the most popular destination for new immigrants, absorbing 15 percent of all the immigrants in 2010. This is a marked increase from 2002, when Jerusalem absorbed just 6% of all immigrants.

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In the past decade, overall aliya to Israel has fallen by nearly 50%. At the same time, aliya to Jerusalem has increased significantly, meaning the city has absorbed about 2,300 immigrants each year, regardless of overall immigration levels. The highest number was in 2005, with 2,835 new immigrants.

Committee head Danny Danon (Likud) pointed out that lack of housing is the biggest problem facing immigrants in Jerusalem. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he had a variety of initiatives planned to ease the housing shortage.

Barkat faulted previous administrations for allowing the free market to determine construction projects, with no overview – which has created a glut of luxury apartments for foreigners and not enough affordable apartments for residents. Barkat’s plan to convince foreign apartment owners to rent their apartments to new immigrants, students and young families has been unsuccessful.

There are 80,592 immigrants currently in Jerusalem, who have arrived since 1990.

Nearly half of Jerusalem’s immigrants are from the Former Soviet Union, which accounted for nearly 60% of immigrants from 1989-1994, directly following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the period from 2004-2009, however, immigrants to Jerusalem from North America and Western Europe constituted nearly 60% of new arrivals, compared with just 19% from the FSU in the same period.

Pini Glinkewitz, director of the Municipal Absorption Authority, said that the majority of Jerusalem immigrants today are middleand upper-class families from North America or Western Europe who are national religious or haredi. He pointed out that many families make the decision about where to settle based on the school systems, and Jerusalem is a natural option because of the variety of education options in close proximity to each other.

Crime is fairly low among immigrant youth and declining further, according to Jerusalem District Police. Supt Yoram Sa’ar, a youth officer.

Immigrant youth were responsible for 6.7% of general crime in 2009, decreasing to 5.5% in 2010.

Ethiopian immigrants, constituting 8% of immigrants over the past decade, are one of the most overlooked immigrant groups in Jerusalem, according to Ethiopian community leader Avraham Naguza. He called on the municipality and the government to add more after-school programs for Ethiopian children in the four Jerusalem neighborhoods with the highest concentration of Ethiopian populations. Naguza also requested that the municipality increase the number of Amharic speakers able to translate and assist the Ethiopian community with municipality tasks like enrolling their children in school, or paying the arnona municipal tax.

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