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As Israel kicks off its 74th Independence Day celebration, immigration to the Jewish state sets record high over the last 12 months

Israel’s population registers at 9.5 million

Ukrainian Jewish immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Feb. 20, 2022. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel will make a sharp transition this evening from the national grief of Memorial Day to the national celebration of Independence Day or Yom HaAtzmaut. The juxtaposition of Yom HaZikaron (a day of solemn remembrance) before Yom HaAtzmaut reminds Israelis of the sacrifices made to secure the safety and stability of the Jewish state.

The State of Israel will kick-off its national 74th birthday this evening with a televised ceremony at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Independence Day celebrations are marked in every city with fireworks, concerts and parties. The following day is a national holiday that traditionally involves barbecues – mangal in Hebrew – the smells of which are evident wherever you go. In addition, the Israeli Air Force will perform its iconic flyover as part of the day’s celebration, attracting crowds across the country.

As Israel celebrate 74 years of independence, statistics show that over the last twelve months, the nation has seen its largest wave of Jewish immigration in twenty years.

Roughly 38,000 Jews immigrated (made aliyah) to the Jewish state since last Independence Day, the highest number seen in two decades, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), which is responsible for encouraging and facilitating Jewish immigration to the land.

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) announced on Sunday a population of 9,506,000 people living in the land. This figure includes about 7 million Jews (73.9% of the total population), 2 million Arabs (21.1%) and 478,000 members of other religious groups (5%). Roughly 79% of Israel’s Jews are native-born.

Overall, the Israeli population grew by some 176,000 people in 2021, which accounts for immigration as well as new births and registered deaths. In the last 12 months alone, 191,000 babies were born and 55,000 people died, according to the CBS.

The majority of new immigrants (olim) came from the United States, France, Belarus, Argentina, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Germany, Belgium, Chile and Italy, and others, according to JAFI.

According to ministry figures, 1,636 Ethiopian Jews immigrated to the Jewish state in 2021. More than 2,000 Ethiopians have moved to Israel since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Many arriving as part of Operation “Tzur Israel,” a government campaign initiated in December 2020 to reunite Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia with their families in Israel.

Ukrainian aliyah has skyrocketed since Feb. 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine. Christian organizations, such as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), have assisted Israel in absorbing thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war-torn country over the last two months.

“Every oleh [immigrant] that comes to Israel contributes to the country and strengthens its character," said Yaakov Hagoel, acting chairman of the Jewish Agency and chairman of the World Zionist Organization. “The Jewish Agency is currently working tirelessly to rescue Ukrainian Jews and bring them to Israel and will continue its rescue operations from anywhere in the world as part of its mission to help thousands of Jews outside of Israel realize their Zionist dream.”

Apart from the war in Ukraine, worldwide anti-Semitism was a contributing factor why many Jews decided to make aliyah.

According to a new study by Tel Aviv University, Western countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia saw dramatic increases in anti-Semitism, with the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes almost doubling in New York and Los Angeles from 2020 to 2021.

In France, anti-Semitic crime grew by almost 74% compared to 2020, and in the UK, physical assaults against Jews increased by 78%. The increase in anti-Semitic hate crime was less drastic in Germany, where it rose 29% compared to 2020. 

Unfortunately, the trend continues: In January 2022 alone, anti-Semitic crimes in New York City rose by almost 300% over the same period last year, according to NYPD. Hate crimes against Jews have caused 25% of American millennials hide their Jewish identity and distance themselves from Israel, according to a poll released recently by the American Jewish Committee.

Israel’s population is expected to reach 11.1 million by 2030, 13.2 million by 2040, and roughly 15.2 million in 2048, when the State of Israel turns 100.

In 1939, before the Holocaust, there were an estimated 16.6 million Jews across the globe.

By comparison, in 1948, when the Jewish state was established, the population of Israel numbered just 806,000 people, of whom 82.1% were Jews and 17.9% were of Arab descent.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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