Cookie Schaffel from Illinois is greeted by family at Ben-Gurion International Airport after arriving in Israel on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group aliyah flight, October 2018. Credit: Jonny Finkel Photography.

For the first time since the founding of the State of Israel, the country’s Jewish population dropped below 74%, according to the Israeli Immigration Policy Center (IPC), which cited data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The Central Bureau of Statistics classified Israelis in one of three ways: Jewish, Arab and Other. The Other category includes non-Arab Christians and those who do not have a religion classification with the Resident Registration.

The Jewish population in Israel decreased from 74.1% in 2019 to 73.9%, a drop of 0.2%. Half of the drop in the Jewish population proportion (0.1%) is due to the increase in Arab population and the other half is due to an increase in the population proportion of the Other category, according to the IPC.

Immigration into Israel significantly decreased during 2020, mostly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Attempting to limit the spread of the virus, Israel closed its borders several times, banning visitors from foreign countries on different occasions. Besides affecting the country’s tourism industry, the step had a dramatic effect on the people seeking or able to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

“This year as well, the proportion of the population that is Jewish continued to shrink at a fast pace,” said IPC Director Yonatan Jakubowicz, who went on to say that Israel must have a responsible and strategic immigration policy that will “protect Israel’s interests as a Jewish and democratic state.”

The IPC is an Israeli NGO that promotes immigration policy that serves the strategic interests of the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state, according to the organization’s website.

Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.

Source: The Jerusalem Post


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