New olim arrive in Israel on Nefesh B'Nefesh flight
New olim arrive in Israel on Nefesh B'Nefesh flightYoni Kempinski

Jewish immigration to Israel dropped slightly in the first eight months of 2018 over the corresponding period last year, despite a 35-percent increase in traffic from Russia.

The 1-percent overall drop owed to a decrease in immigration from countries with major Jewish populations, including Ukraine – which saw an 8-percent drop to 4,094 immigrants in 2018 – and France, which dropped by 31 percent to 1,862 newcomers between January 1 and Sept. 1, an interim report by the Jewish Agency for Israel showed.

By contrast, Aliyah from Russia leapt to 6,331 newcomers in the first trimesters of 2018 compared to 4,701 in that period in 2017.

The increase in immigration from Russia came amid a financial crisis there and in Ukraine, which in 2014 entered a territorial dispute. Many Russian Jews are feeling increasingly uncomfortable in Russia amid the erosion of democratic principles and free media there, Natan Sharansky, the former chairman of the Jewish Agency, has said.

Immigration to Israel according to its Law of Return for Jews and their relatives, or aliyah, decreased from the United States by 17 percent, with 2,066 U.S. Jews making the move in the first eight months of 2018 compared to 2,483 in the corresponding period last year.

Aliyah from the United Kingdom, where many Jews are contemplating leaving in light of the prospect of Labour, with its anti-Semitism problem, reaching power increased by a mere 7 percent, to 371 newcomers.

Overall, Israel saw the arrival of 18,965 immigrants under the Law of Return, or olim, in the first eight months of 2018 compared to 19,067 in the same period last year.