The next Great Aliyah Wave

Israel has been asked to assist Diaspora Jews, but is it prepared for an aliyah wave or will it lose olim who find no homes and jobs? Op-ed.

Leonie Ben-Simon ,

Participants at the Mega Aliyah Fair in New York
Participants at the Mega Aliyah Fair in New York
Shahar Azarn

The year will soon be 2021 – only six months away from today. Will Israel be ready for the second wave – the Great Aliyah Wave of the 2000’s now waiting on her doorstep?

In the West, there is a combination of the coronavirus, economic mayhem not much different to that of the Great Depression, civil unrest and rising antisemitism with attacks on Jews, their properties and synagogues. The world is no longer shocked as it was after the Holocaust by both lone wolf and planned attacks by extremists in Europe, the US and other countries. Security services are barely managing to contain this phenomenon.

The burning question is: Does Israel have the resources to integrate large numbers of Jews from all over the world in the next twelve months or so?


The burning question is: Does Israel have the resources to integrate large numbers of Jews from all over the world in the next twelve months or so?
Like it or not they will come as the doors close for them in the golden medina, in France and in other countries. Today we have millions of Jews worldwide sitting on the fence wondering if life in Israel is for them. From Montreal ,with Torah scrolls and religious objects destroyed, to France, with killings as cities fill with extremists and their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred.

Today is no exception to our history of having to leave country after country. Empires come and empires go and we see the weakening of the fourth great empire starting to crumble from within. Security of tenure in diaspora communities is at risk.

This week it is rioting in the streets of the US, looting of businesses and economic damage as shops and buildings are set on fire, defacing and vandalism of synagogues and churches. But worse still is the fear as Torah scrolls are taken out of synagogues and hidden.

Reports are coming in of requests for assistance from Israel – “every second building in Israel was financed by US Jews. Now we need help.” Parents cannot pay school fees and the whole system’s viability is on the cards. The answer to their pain is not for Israel to assist the diaspora long term because the ship will eventually sink anyway through assimilation, economic instability or terror warfare. The solution is only aliyah.

Unprepared?

For starters, Israel has insufficient housing. In the nineteen-sixties apartment blocks rose at great speed whilst the ships docked and the planes landed full of olim. Today even young couples find it difficult to buy housing due mainly to the lack of supply. Is there a plan to increase supply exponentially?

The fifties saw powerless people housed in tents, managing to bring up large families with mud on the ground and no plumbing, which Israel slowly transitioned into huts. Amidar housed hundreds of thousands in buildings that are now categorised as not being earthquake proof and need to be repaired to modern standards or demolished.

The majority of olim were sent to the periphery of the country. At that time there was no return ticket for immigrants, not to Europe with its horrible memories nor to Arab countries such as Iraq where Jews were being killed nor to Egypt with Jewish properties and businesses expropriated.

Analysing the demographics of Jews in the United States, putting aside the stereotype of the rich American uncle, shows that there is a sector which is not wealthy. Community support organisations help those who pay the rents and feed many of the elderly and poor. These include Israelis who left to make their fortune but failed. They fly under the radar when only those who have “made it” gain publicity. Can Israel absorb these people as it did the Russians and Ethiopians?

Much of the younger and middle aged generation of diaspora Jews is well educated, has enjoyed decent housing, vehicle ownership and access to services. Olim will not come to be offloaded into desert towns without services or the opportunity to work in their occupations as the Mizrachi Jews were. After living with such a lifestyle would they be prepared to take on any jobs as the Russian olim did? They will not put up with overcrowded hospitals where they are shunted into passages as olim were in the sixties.

And another point: Their current lack of money due to corona and their burgeoning fears due to the riots may only be temporary. They will prefer to stay in their countries if they are not offered a decent standard of living - despite knowing that most of their grandchildren will not be Jews due to assimilation.

Is Israel able to offer them a future or will another six million Jews be lost?

Leonie Ben-Simon is a freelance journalist with an MBA from Monash University, Victoria Australia.



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