The current worldwide population of Jews stands at 14,410,700, and Israel’s 6,740,000 million Jews make up 45% of the world total. The statistics were presented during Monday’s meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.
6,088,000 Jews live in North America, 1,072,400 reside in Europe, 324,000 Jews live in South America, 300,000 in Asia, 120,000 in Australia and New Zealand, and 74,000 in Africa.
Committee Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) said the distress of small Jewish communities abroad, which cannot sustain themselves, was a burning issue. MK Bitan is promoting the establishment of a fund to assist these communities. Finance Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) has already promised MK Bitan NIS 20 million for this purpose, and the committee chairman has asked the Jewish Agency to allocate a similar sum.
“If we will not strengthen the communities in the Diaspora, we will not have who to bring to Israel,” said Committee Chairman MK Bitan. “The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a new and unique wave of anti-Semitism around the world, and Israel must condemn the anti-Semitism phenomenon in the world, in all its forms.” He said the committee is scheduled to hold a meeting next week on anti-Semitism online, with senior representatives from social media companies.
According to the “Report on Worldwide Anti-Semitism” published by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, 2019 witnessed a rise of 18% in major violent cases compared to 2018 (456 cases in 2019 compared to 387 in 2018).
Earlier this month, the government approved a comprehensive plan geared toward securing the future of Diaspora Jewry.
Dvir Kahana, Director General of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, said 80% of Jews who live abroad do not feel any connection to Judaism or Jews. “We are swimming against the current, and most Jews abroad live comfortably,” he said. MK Rabbi Yosef Taieb (Shas) urged the state to focus on strengthening Jewish identity among Jews abroad. “Connecting with the Jewish identity makes [Jews abroad] want to make aliyah,” he argued.