News You Really Need To See: “Jewish Migration: Next Year in Berlin”

“Jewish Migration: Next Year in Berlin”

The Economist, October 13, 2014, p.59

“Is Berlin the new Jerusalem?  A Facebook page launched in Hebrew this month on how to move to a city far from rockets and rocketing prices in Israel has gone viral, reaching 600,000 people in a week.  It is called Olim Le-Berlin, ‘Let’s ascend to Berlin’, using the same rousing verb Jews reserve for emigrating, or ‘ascending’, to Israel. … The response from official Israel has been vitriolic. Yisrael Ha-Yom, seen as the mouthpiece of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, chided Berlin’s ascenders on its front page.  The voice of the nationalist right decried them as an insult to all Holocaust survivors. … Emigration rates hardly justify such uproar.  The German Federal Statistics Office records an increase of just 400 Israeli immigrants per year.  Overall, Israel reckons there were about 16,000 new émigrés (inevitably called ‘descenders’) in 2012, but they were more than offset by incoming Jews from Eastern Europe, America and France, who tend to be more religious and right-wing. … That said, the West’s multicultural cities are exercising a growing attraction, particularly on young, single, non-religious and increasingly female graduates—the type who made Tel Aviv cool.  Many Israelis temporarily fled the country during Israel’s summer war in Gaza, after wailing sirens emptied the beaches and kept people indoors. Over Sabbath meals, Israelis who are worried about growing intolerance discuss whether to put their children or their country first.  Fears of anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, deter many Israelis from making the move.  But Mr Netanyahu’s apparent rejection of compromise with Palestinians, and wars every few years, is eroding hope.  Arguments about economic priorities are growing as Israel’s generals demand resources; on October 8th, they secured cabinet approval for a 10% rise in military spending.  On their Facebook page, the Berlin ascenders displayed a bill for groceries in Germany that would cost three times as much in Israel.”

Quickie Analysis:  Religious home or economic well-being?  Israel’s character is changing as more of the young, wealthy, and secular population leaves for greener pastures, to be replaced by poorer and more religious immigrants.  

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