A majority of new immigrants to Israel are non-Jews, according to a new report, cutting into the country’s Jewish majority.
The report was produced by the Center for Immigration Policy, and draws on data collected by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
Based on the CBS statistics, the report found that in 2022, a total of 77,000 people immigrated to Israel, including 71,000 people who made Aliyah, entering the country and receiving citizenship under the Law of Return.
Passed in 1950, the Law of Return offers a Right of Return and automatic citizenship to any member of a recognized Diaspora Jewish community.
In 1970, the law was expanded with the so-called “grandchild clause,” enabling the children of Jews, grandchildren of Jews, and spouses of Jews to also claim citizenship under the Law of Return.
While the law was considered a key to Israel’s demographic future during the 1950s and 1960s – and again in the 1990s following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 – the “grandchild clause” has resulted in an expansion of non-Jewish immigration.
According to the CIP report, Israel’s Jewish majority fell in 2022 by 0.3 points as a result of non-Jewish immigration, from 73.9% a year earlier to 73.6%.
Israel’s Jewish majority has declined by roughly 10% over the past 30 years, the report claimed, falling by an average of one-third of a point per year.
Much of that decline is due to rising rates of non-Jewish immigration, CIP said, noting that in 2022, an absolute majority of new immigrants to Israel were non-Jews.
Of the 77,000 total immigrants who gained legal status in Israel last year, nearly 60% were not Jewish. Among the 71,000 who made Aliyah, receiving citizenship under the Law of Return, 55% of new immigrants were non-Jews, compared to just 32,000, or 45% of new immigrants who were Jews.
The authors of the report noted that plans currently under consideration in the new government to nullify the 1970 amendment could reduce non-Jewish immigration by 85%.
"It is unbelievable that the rise in new Olim leads such a decline in the Jewish majority,” said Attorney Dr. Yona Cherki, from the Israeli Immigration Policy Center.
“This is a demographic deficit that will harm the Jewish identity and status of the country. The upshot of the CBS data is that the amendment to the section ‘Rights of family members’ (known as the ‘grandson clause’) in the Law of Return may reduce non-Jewish immigration to Israel by 85%.”