Secular Israelis wary of impact of non-Jewish olim

About two-thirds of secular Israelis fear that accepting 300,000 non-Jewish immigrants could lead to assimilation, according to an Absorption Ministry survey.

The study, the first to examine Israeli attitudes toward non-Jewish immigrants, reveals that 88 percent of secular people assume the immigrants were not motivated by Jewish concerns. Some 72 percent are concerned by these immigrants’ tendency to remain in separate groups within society.

More than half (54 percent) of secular Israelis said the immigration has caused social problems, and only 46 percent feel guilty that the immigrants are not better integrated in Israel. However, 61 percent believe that the immigrants have bolstered the Israeli economy, 82 percent would be glad to have non-Jewish neighbors, 77 percent see the immigrants as part of the Israeli nation and society, and 52 percent do not object to a family member marrying a non-Jewish immigrant.

At the same time, most of the public are interested in helping them convert to Judaism and 74 percent are in favor of Orthodox conversion. But the same number of people – unlike most Orthodox rabbis – believe that they should be allowed to convert to Judaism even if they don’t intend to maintain a religious way of life.

The survey reflects a more stringent attitude on the part of the religious public, 89 percent of whom fear that the non-Jewish immigration would lead to assimilation and only 54 percent of whom are willing to live next door to non-Jewish immigrants. Fifty-five percent of religious people do not accept conversion for any purpose other than observing a religious way of life. However, the survey also showed a greater willingness to help immigrants to convert among the religious public. Two-thirds agreed to accompany a family in the process of conversion, 85 percent agreed to host a person undergoing conversion for the Sabbath and 79 percent are ready to accept the would-be converts in their children’s schools.

The Absorption Ministry wishes to use these figures to revive the bruised and tattered state-sponsored conversion system following its recent setbacks, including the Prime Minister’s Office’s dismissal of Conversion Authority head Rabbi Haim Druckman, after the Supreme Rabbinic Court deemed illegitimate thousands of conversions Druckman performed directly or indirectly.

Ref: Haaretz

One Response

  1. I didnt even know that there was non-Jewish immigration into Israel?

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