60% of Jewish Israelis: Israel should invest in its expatriates - survey

Some 86% of respondents believe that the Jewish State must invest in Hebrew language studies for Israeli children living abroad

 WZO staff on mission visiting Israelis living abroad  (photo credit: Spokesman WZO)
WZO staff on mission visiting Israelis living abroad
(photo credit: Spokesman WZO)

Over 60% of Israel's Jewish adults believe that the country should invest in Israelis living abroad, a new survey has found.

In addition, the survey, which was conducted by the Geocartography Institute on behalf of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), found that 59% of Israelis who have family abroad and 53% of those who don't, believe that Israel must cultivate Israeli communities abroad.

The study involved 505 Jewish participants over the age of 18.

Some 86% believe that the Jewish State must invest in Hebrew language studies for Israeli children living abroad, and 66% believe that Israel is responsible that these "relocators" feel a joint destiny with the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

Some 40% of Israelis see themselves living abroad, while 29.5% completely refused. 

PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG and WZO chairman Yaakov Hagoel attend a ceremony in honor of Herzog at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem on July 5.  (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON / FLASH 90)PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG and WZO chairman Yaakov Hagoel attend a ceremony in honor of Herzog at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem on July 5. (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON / FLASH 90)

Approximately half of Israel's citizens think that the COVID-19 pandemic did not change the relationship between Israeli Jews and the Diaspora, 28% felt that it was weakened and 19% thought that it was strengthened.

"The results surprised even us," Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman, head of the WZO's Department for Organization and Connection with Israelis Abroad, said in an interview with Maariv. "Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Israeli consulates abroad have been flooded with requests from Israelis to gain passports for their children, since at times only Israeli citizens were allowed into the country," she explained.

There are some 1 million Israelis living abroad today, with nearly 800,000 in the US, according to Yehoshua-Braverman.

"Since former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1976 called Israelis who left to live abroad 'a bunch of weaklings', a deep change has occurred in the country's attitude towards them, and the WZO's goal is to embrace and welcome them," she said.

"Once upon a time people said that Jews who do not make aliyah are not Zionists, but the world has changed and today it is a global village," she said.

"We must keep them close. Our studies have shown that in practice most Israelis are not part of the Jewish communities in the countries in which they live. Israeli communities with an affinity for Israel and Judaism must be created so that Israel will be the center of their world and they will eventually return," she concluded.