Poll: Majority Hold That Aliyah by Non-Jews Poses Danger to Israel’s Jewish Character

The arrival of French Jews, who made aliyah, at Ben Gurion International Airport, in 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Approximately two-thirds of the Jewish public in Israel feel that active aliyah by people who are not designated Jews at the time of their arrival in Israel poses a danger to Israel’s character as a Jewish State, a new survey by the Smith Institute indicates.

The survey was commissioned by the Israeli Immigration Policy Center after the government’s decision last week to allow thousands of Ethiopians of Jewish background from Addis Ababa and Gondar to make aliyah. The survey included 500 respondents from the Jewish population in Israel.

The survey also examined Jewish Israelis’ feelings about bringing non-Jewish citizens of foreign countries to Israel. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they supported allowing non-Jews to make aliyah only insofar as they qualified to do so under the Law of Return and only 24% said they supported allowing non-Jews to make aliyah in the context of family reunification.

Among respondents who identified as Yesh Atid voters, 51% said that non-Jews should be allowed to make aliyah only if qualified under the Law of Return, and 37% supported the idea of allowing non-Jews to make aliyah to reunite families.

The survey also examined the public’s views on the unique situation in Ethiopia, following a determination in the early 2000s that there were no Ethiopian Jews left in that country. Meanwhile, from 2013-2019, only 2% of immigrants from Ethiopia were registered as Jews in the Interior Ministry.

Given these statistics, 52-58% of respondents opposed allowing aliyah on the basis of family reunification only, while 27-28% said they supported allowing non-Jews to make aliyah for the purpose of family reunification, and 20% did not have an opinion.

The Israeli Immigration Policy Center issued a statement in response to the results of the survey: “The security fence that stopped the illegal migration from Africa has been broken wide open. The Jewish Agency and the government ministries have simply opened a detour and continue to bring tens of thousands of non-Jews to Israel, even though time and again it is proven that they have only the most tenuous links to Judaism.

“The public understands that there is a need for a constitutional fence in the form of the Law of Return against this new infiltration, which is taking place under the auspices of the authorities’ helplessness and on the basis of family reunification,” the center said.