About 37% of Israelis currently hold or plan to acquire a foreign passport with the intention of emigrating, according to the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) new 2023 Annual Assessment, published on Wednesday.
According to the institute, this alarming figure underscores the deepening crisis within Israel and raises questions about the nation's resilience.
In a year marked by significant turmoil and polarization, due to the judicial reforms in Israel, as well as turbulence in areas of religion and state, the JPPI report paints a troubling picture of Israeli society. While the report acknowledges Israel's remarkable progress in its 75th year of independence, including economic, military, and political achievements, it highlights the erosion of mutual respect among Israelis from different ideological backgrounds.
Perhaps most concerning is the dramatic decline in Israelis' comfort levels living in their own country. Over the past year, the percentage of those who don't feel comfortable has surged from 20% to 32%, while those who do feel comfortable have dwindled from 76% to 65%. Even right-wing supporters, traditionally a more cohesive group, have seen their comfort levels decrease from 55% in February 2023 to 43% in July.
These trends have led many Israelis to contemplate emigration as a potential solution to the challenges they perceive in their homeland. Close to 40% of Israelis considering acquiring a foreign passport and leaving the country represent a significant portion of the population, and this figure is even higher among conservative Israelis and individuals holding foreign passports themselves.
American Jews anxious about Israel's crises
In a parallel survey conducted among American Jews regarding their feelings toward the political and social crisis in Israel, the dominant response was "anxiety" no matter which ideological/political scale they identified with. Among those who defined themselves as "very liberal," 19% said they felt disgust, and among those who defined themselves as "center," 21% expressed bewilderment. Among those who identified as Conservatives and Reform, 24% expressed "anger" toward the current crisis in Israel.
When asked about how the events in Israel would affect their attitude towards the country, the responses varied depending on their religious and political affiliations. Orthodox and Conservative respondents predominantly believed that there would be no change in their attitude towards Israel, viewing their connection as unwavering. However, among Reform and Jews not affiliated with any specific religious stream, the dominant response was "depends on the outcome." Even among a third of Conservative and nearly a quarter of Orthodox respondents, the answer was "depends on the outcome."
Despite the significant challenges outlined in the JPPI Annual Assessment, it is crucial to acknowledge the remarkable progress Israel achieved in its 75th year of independence. The nation demonstrated substantial growth on multiple fronts, including its economy, military prowess, and political standing. Israel has cemented its position as a regional power with a resilient economy, and it continues to foster increased cooperation with neighboring and regional countries, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the complex issues it faces.
The report also underscored the need for “courageous leadership,” to address these divisive issues and heal the rifts within the Jewish community, both in Israel and abroad.
The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is an independent center of thought and planning focused on shaping strategy and policy for the Jewish people, both in Israel and the Diaspora. Its core objectives include ensuring the continuity and prospering of the Jewish people, preserving and cultivating pluralistic Jewish identity, and strengthening cohesion within Israel, among Diaspora Jews, and between Israel and the Diaspora.
According to Prof. Yedidia Stern, the President of JPPI, "The dramatic change in 2023 is that, for the first time in our history, it is evident that the dispute over Israel's identity as a Jewish and democratic state is tearing apart our covenant of unity and common destiny, creating rifts within it.