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Israel

Dossier

With regard to the subject of migration, too, Israel is unusual in one very important way: the state is virtually built on immigration. Mass immigration characterised various periods of the 20th century, especially the years immediately before and after the founding of the state in 1948. The subsequent war that broke out with the neighbouring Arab states (War of Independence) led, on the other hand, to a wave of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. The population of Israel has doubled several times over the past 60 years, in particular as a result of immigration. Today the country has 6.4 million inhabitants. Since 1948 more than three million immigrants have been registered, and in the 1990s Israel was even the country with the highest percentage of immigration worldwide in proportion to the size of its population. Given the considerable number of Jewish immigrants, questions of integration and of the co-existence of new immigrants with the indigenous population play an important role in Israel. In recent times, migration and integration policy has been faced with newly developing challenges. These include labour migration, refugeeism and illegal residence – challenges with which western immigration countries have been typically confronted up to now. (Version from 6/2008)

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Background information

In terms of area and population, Israel is quite a small country. Its national territory roughly corresponds in size to that of the US state of New Jersey and, with about seven million inhabitants, it…

Jan Schneider

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Historical development of Jewish immigration

Jews have been migrating to Palestine since the early 1880s and the emergence of the Zionist movement. Five waves of immigration (aliyah, plural: aliyoth) are generally identified for the time leading…

Jan Schneider

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Immigration policy

Israeli immigration policy is based on what is known as the Law of Return, adopted on 5 July 1950. This makes manifest the concept of a Jewish-Zionist state allowing, indeed suggesting, that every…

Jan Schneider

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Integration

In line with immigration law there are corresponding state measures to promote integration. Historically, the Jewish Agency has played an important role here too. Since its founding in 1968, however,…

Jan Schneider

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Citizenship

The citizenship law is based primarily on jus sanguinis and thus follows ethnonational or ethnoreligious principles. As a rule, Jews who make aliyah, in other words immigrate, to Israel automatically…

Jan Schneider

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Labour migration

Until about 15 years ago, the foreign immigration into the Israeli labour market was a negligible category. High birth rates, a comparatively good education system and a permanent migration surplus…

Jan Schneider

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Irregular residence and migration control

Irregular residence in Israel is rarely the result of illegal border crossings. More often it comes as a direct consequence of the restrictive recruitment policy which limits residence permits to a…

Jan Schneider

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Current developments and future challenges

It has meanwhile become clear that it is not possible for the policy of deporting illegally employed foreigners to reduce the number of irregular migrants in the country over the long term.

Jan Schneider

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References and Further Reading

Here you can find references and further reading for Country Profile 13: "Israel" by Jan Schneider.

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