Israel sees slight drop in immigration this year despite 35 percent rise from Russia


(JTA) — Jewish immigration to Israel fell slightly in the first eight months of 2018 over the corresponding period last year, despite a 35 percent increase from Russia.

The 1 percent overall drop owed to a decrease in immigration from countries with major Jewish populations, notably France and the United States, an interim report by the Jewish Agency for Israel showed.

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

The numbers from France fell by 31 percent compared to the corresponding period last year, to 1,862 newcomers between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1, and from the United States by 17 percent, with 2,066 U.S. Jews making the move compared to 2,483. Ukraine also saw an 8 percent drop to 4,094 immigrants.

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

The increase 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 from the United Kingdom also rose, by 7 percent to 371 newcomers. Many Jews are contemplating leaving there in light of the prospect of the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party, with its anti-Semitism problem, reaching power.

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