Tel Aviv unveils plans to integrate Western immigrants

Demographic changes have caused city to adopt “a strategy that puts more focus on the unique needs of the ‘new olim’ community."

View of Tel Aviv 390 (photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
View of Tel Aviv 390
(photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
If you’ve spent the past decade or so in Tel Aviv, you’ve probably noticed the change. The city has increasingly found itself in the global spotlight, and English speakers – once relatively rare in the city – are hard to avoid on any street corner in central Tel Aviv. Even in the city’s south and in Jaffa, native English-speakers have become a prominent fixture of the first Hebrew city.
This influx hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Tel Aviv Municipality, which on Wednesday unveiled what it said was a “strategic plan to better integrate Western immigrants.”
According to Interior Ministry figures presented by the city, of the 15,000 immigrants who moved to Tel Aviv between 2002 and 2012, 5,000 were Anglos, 2,500 were Francophone and 1,000 were Spanish-speakers.
For the city, the fact that the majority of the new immigrants over the past decade are from the West means a need to recalibrate the services they offer to residents.
“Over the past 10 years, Tel Aviv-Jaffa has experienced an unprecedented wave of olim from Western countries...
This is a major shift from the traditional Russian and Amharic-speaking communities that predominated aliya to Tel Aviv-Jaffa in previous decades,” the city said on Wednesday.
These demographic changes have caused the city to adopt “a strategy that puts more focus on the unique needs of the ‘new olim’ community, while recognizing their special contribution to the city.”
Many of the city’s initiatives will be run out of the municipal center for young adults at 9 Mazeh Street, focusing on employment workshops, advice on finding and renting apartments, and cultural and social activism for young people. It will also send English, Hebrew and French-speaking advisers three times a week to the Gordon Ulpan in the municipal center, where they will be available for immigrants in need of advice.
At a press conference at the center on Wednesday, Eytan Schwartz, Mayor Ron Huldai’s adviser for foreign affairs, spoke of moving to Tel Aviv in 1982 at the age of seven and feeling that he was the only American in town, a situation that has changed dramatically in the years since.
Schwartz said that Tel Aviv “is growing as a global city and is seen as a cool city to live in; for the first time in our history, Tel Aviv has become a destination for Western elites.
“This wasn’t always the case: 20, 30 years ago Americans would move to Ra’anana or Jerusalem and not settle in Tel Aviv.”
Schwartz added that the push to help Anglo immigrants is not related to the upcoming mayoral elections, but rather, is an apolitical campaign to help a unique and new population in the city.
He described that population as one that brings great credentials and skillsets, a sentiment echoed by Huldai, who told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “it’s a population that brings democracy and pluralism and a different sort of Judaism; they’re dynamic and they can make it a greater city.” •