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Will there be a mass migration out of Israel?

Anti-overhaul activists protest against the government's judicial reform, near the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

With the threat of an impending civil war, constant protests and disruptions to basic services due to strikes and a political monopoly, which has the power to completely change the character of Israel, more Israelis, than ever before, are weighing their options as to whether or not this would be a good time to leave the country before things get any worse.

According to a recent Times of Israel article, which cited the findings of a poll, it was revealed that 28% of Israelis are considering leaving the country amid judicial upheaval.

The article says, “In the wake of the government passing the first law in its divisive judicial overhaul package, a survey carried out Tuesday, found that over a quarter of Israelis are considering leaving the country.”

That number includes doctors. It was reported back in 2020, well before all of this political unrest, that Israel remained 10% below the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) average in the number of doctors in the country – the average being 3.7 per thousand people and Israel lagging at 3.3. Making matters worse, ever since the introduction of reforms, at least 1,000 Israeli doctors are looking into relocation abroad.

This comes as Israel’s health care system, once the envy of most countries, where an immediate appointment to see a physician was possible, has dramatically changed its services, making it much more difficult to access a doctor before a week’s time. That is our new reality since COVID-19.

But it’s not only the medical sector. As soon as the first reform was voted into law, the Tel Aviv stock exchange negatively reacted to the news, reflecting what is believed to be a mass exodus of investors and technological advancement, all of which has been responsible for a tremendous financial boon over the last couple of decades. Closing with a sharp drop of 2.3%, after the passage of the “Reasonableness Clause,” (preventing Supreme Court oversight) the economy is bracing for many more debilitating effects.  

One such ominous forecast has come from the credit rating agency, Moody’s Investors Services which “warned about ‘negative consequences and ‘significant risk’ for Israel’s economy and security situation following the passage of the first bill of the government’s contested judicial overhaul.”

It was just a few months ago that Moody’s adjusted Israel’s credit standing from positive to stable.  All this comes amidst the shekel weakening on Monday by 1%.  There is no question that this has had a tremendous impact on foreign investors, who are nervous and left to question whether or not Israel will remain a democracy.  In fact, it was reported, as early as February, that “billions of dollars are leaving Israel every day.”

Consequently, many Israeli families and friends have stopped engaging in trivialities during their usual Friday evening discussions around the Shabbat dinner table, and, instead, are seriously contemplating whether or not Israel continues to be the inspiring homeland that holds promise for them and their loved ones, especially the next generation. It’s a topic no one could have predicted would be dominating our society just a year ago, but now it is.

In truth, as a result of the great political rift, no one knows where they really stand or how far this extreme government coalition will take the country. It is that uncertainty that is making the grass in other countries look a bit greener, causing many Israelis to feel that a geographical change could offer them more freedom and a better economic outlook.

But the gnawing question is, “How does this square with biblical prophecy, which foretold the return to Zion – the gathering of the exiles from the four corners of the earth?” A few days ago, someone wrote me wondering if there would be a third exodus from the Promised Land. As negative as the prognosis is, of these present-day events, I had to conclude that there is no evidence that such a thing will occur.  

In fact, as time goes on, there seems to be a general global decrease in stability, as governments become more emboldened to control their populations by imposing mandates and other harsh reforms which have adversely impacted their citizens. We’ve seen this take place in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the U.S. and many other places. Israel certainly does not stand alone in these issues, and while some Israelis might daydream about how much better life could be elsewhere, they might be saddened to discover that the grass is NOT at all greener on the other side, despite what they thought. 

Israel, indeed, needs to make up its mind as to whether or not it will remain a free and democratic society where citizens enjoy a great deal of autonomy and the ability to make their own life decisions. And those choices should come without repercussion from an oppressive and heavy-handed, extreme religious government.  In order to do that, Israelis, opposed to what is presently happening, will need to stay in the fight for freedom, because once they leave, they will have no voice.

The future of Israel is worth fighting over, and we must prevail, because, as the well-known Hebrew song goes, “Ayn li eretz acheret,” (I have no other homeland).  And this may be the most positive news of all, because, since God intended for this tiny strip of land to be the only Jewish homeland in the world, it stands to reason that He will override any evil or destructive plans which have the potential to cause our harm or even demise.

That is a promise we can all take to the bank, and one which will not be downgraded by Moody’s. But it’s also dependent upon the belief that the Almighty is truly actively involved in all that goes on here – even what seems to be the down spiraling of our beloved nation, at a time when Jews, throughout the world, have felt a necessity to consider returning to their ancestral home for fear of what’s going on in their own countries.

With little else upon which to hold on, we must collectively affirm the sovereignty of the One who birthed this land in one day (Isaiah 66:8). He has not pushed the snooze button! Israel will, indeed, prevail, because, ultimately, it is He who will fight for us and restore our homeland to its fullest potential – a land flowing with milk and honey.

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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