Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Additional Demographics of Jews in Israel Including Ways of Living in Different Places

Nadene Goldfoot                                                             

Kibbutz Degania Alef was established on the Sea of Galilee in 1908 from nearby Kinneret and started with 20 but had a population of 590 by 1990.  During the Israel War of Independence, Syrian troops reached the edge of the kibbutz and an old man and young girl of the kibbutz  held them off, who left this tank.  Talk about miracles!  
How good and how pleasant it is that brethren dwell together. (Bible, Psalms, 133.1)
One of the arguments that some Muslims are using against Jews establishing Israel is that they aren't people from the Middle East, which is completely unfounded.  Jews have been in the Middle East and in Eretz Yisrael being we came from Abraham from Isaac just like Ishmael did.  Abraham goes back to the 2nd millennium BCE.  Before Abraham was in Canaan, he came from Ur, which is a city in Iraq.  The Middle East is our homeland.

 The difference is that Jews had been forced to scatter at different periods of their history and some did live in Europe and gained a Western perspective of philosophy of living while the Arabs did not.  Leading Muslim leaders had found this background of having feet in both camps a plus in their coming back as it could only help their own people bridge that difference and uplift their own existence.  Others found this frightening and too competitive for them. As for religion, both believe in one G-d.  Islam teaches much of what is found in Judaism.  This seems to me to be a power struggle that is going on.

Israel did regain its independence to become a Homeland for what remained of the  Jewish people on May 14, 1948.  The majority of its population are Jews.  It is, however, a pluralist society where the different cultures and social traditions coexist.  Not only are the Jews from far and wide and come in different colors from different cultures, but  other peoples  are also residing in Israel with them.
The origins of the Jewish population of Israel by 1972 came from 3 sources.  27.1% came from people born in Europe and the Americas. They would be a mixture of Sephardis and Ashkenazis, as the USA was first settled by Sephardis.  25.7% came from people born in Asia and Africa, which were mainly Arab countries. At the onset of Israel, these people were forced out of their Middle Eastern homes and most made aliyah to Israel.  47.2% were Sabras, which means people that were born in Israel.  They would be a mixture of Ashkenazi and Sephardi origins.

The majority of Israeli Jews were born in Israel or other Middle Eastern countries.  Only about 1/4 of Israeli Jews were born in Europe and the Americas.

By 1972, Jews were 85.2%, Arabs, Druzes and others were 14,8%, Locally born Jews (Sabras) were 47.2%, Jews from Asia-Africa wee 25,7%, and Jews from Europe-America were 27.1%.
                                                The Israeli Mosaic of Peoples
During the 11 years between the census of May 1961 and May 1972, the population grew by 944,500 people.  That shows a growth of 44%.  Out of this growth, 629,500 was by natural increase and 315,000 was by immigration.  During Israel's first decade, the number of immigrants exceeded the number of births in Israel.  That was because from 1948 to 1958, most  people were survivors of the holocaust and were displaced persons.  Sephardim and Mizrachim were forced out of their Middle East homes and needed to emigrate to Israel.  Ashkenazim emigrated from Europe to Israel who were survivors.

Israel's population as of May 1948 was 650,000.
By 1952 it was..................................1,629,500
By 1960 it was..................................2,150,400
By 1970 it was..................................3,001,400
By 2013 it was .................................8,012,400

By 1972 the communities of Israel came from basically 4 sources:
      1. Jews made up 85.2% of the population with 2,636,600.
          Jews made up 75.4% of the population with 6,037,700 by March 2013.
     2. Muslims made up 11.1% with 343,900.
         Muslims made up 20.6% with 1,656,600 by March 2013.
     3. Christians made up 2.4% with 77,300.  By the year 2,000, there were 130,000 Christians in Israel, or 2.1% of the total population.  Out of this group, 107,000 were Arabs and 23,000 non-Arabs, many of who came to Israel with their Jewish spouses, mainly during the waves of immigration in the early 1980s and from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.  (Dateline:  World Jewry from World Jewish Congress)
     4. Druzes and others made up 1.3% with 37,300.
        Others make up 4% of the population with 318,100 by March 2013.

Since May 15, 1948, Israel has welcomed home almost a million and a half Jews by 1972.  More than half of them had been forced to flee from the Arab countries.  Since then, Jews from the free and affluent countries are coming home to be a part of Israel's life and development so are contributing.  Soviet Jews were not allowed to practice their religion and came to settle.  Thousands of Russian Jews had to overcome every imaginable obstacle to reach Israel.  When I made Aliyah in 1980, I was in a class of 40 immigrants of which many were from Russia.  People who immigrate to Israel are called the olim.

Most of the needy olim came from their tribulations and duress, and had few resources to get there and funds from Jews throughout the world aided them in their transportation.  They came without skills and the government housed and trained them as well as found employment for these newcomers.  Ethiopians were brought to Safed in the 80's.

People making aliyah today are motivated by a voluntary decision to make their home in Israel and share in the remaking of the Jewish Commonwealth.  Many come with skills and professions and only need help in their integration to the society which the Jewish Agency provides.  All people go through a 3 month intensive Hebrew course.  Teachers are to live at the Absorption Centers and study for 10 months.  English is a required course in all schools.  Students  also take either Arabic or French in jr high and high school.  Newspapers are available in English and in easy Hebrew with the vowels.

Jews have been deprived from working on the land since they were deprived of their country from 70 CE.  The return to the land has created 800 villages by 1972.  This was started in 1880 with the First Aliyah when young Russians returned and had to drain the swamps and fight malaria from the mosquitoes.  494 of the villages were founded since the 1950's.  There are 3 main types that are unique to Israel.

1.  Moshava is a village type of the late 19th century based on private land-ownership and private enterprise.  Many of these have expanded into towns or have become partially urbanized because it had its limitations, both economic and social.  56 villages were of this catagory.
2. Kibbutz-Kibbutzim:  The first was kibbutz  Degania Alef, which was established in 1908-1909 on Lake Kinneret by idealistic Jewish pioneers.  Their belief was "From each according to his ability-to each according to his need." Many have been followed by 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations.  All property, except for personal things, are held in common, and work is organized on a collective basis.  Service tasks are asssigned in rotation to all members.  They have communal dining-halls, kitchens and stores, social and cultural centers.  I visited several;  Degania and another who had a fantastic dining hall and served great cold borsht.  There were 231 kibbutzim by 1971 and there were 93,000 people living in them which was about 2.8% of the population.

3. Moshav:  This is a village based on the cooperative principle.  The cooperative moshav is where each member family has its own farm but produce is sold and supplies and equipment are bought through a central cooperative.  They work through a council.  They have absorbed a large number of newcomers to Israel from Asia and Africa.  There were 347 moshavim in Israel by 1972 with 123,600 people which was 4.4% of the population of Israel.

Most of Israel's population by 1972 was urban (82.5%).  The rural population continued to grow but became smaller compared to the growing population.  It is interesting that the Talmud in Ketubot 110 said that Living in a metropolis is a hardship.   Most of Israel's population is found in 3 major cities which are at risk in any type of attack; Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.  

Many of Israel's smaller towns go back to biblical, talmudic or mediaeval days.  I lived in Safed which has a rich history.  There are villages that have grown into towns, such as Petah Tikva.  Towns were also established in Mandatory times such as Ramat Gan.  I loved to drive from Safed to  Kiryat Sh'mona, which was closer to the border of Lebanon and was called a development town.  It had a department store in it that reminded me of Macy's.  Beersheba goes back to Bible days and had doubled in size by 1971.  Jews had resettled there after their return from Babylon and remained until 1929 when Arabs attacked the population and occupied it.  In 1948 the Arab population of 5,700 abandoned the town and Jews were able to live there again.  By 1990 the population was 113,200.  

Ashkelon, 56 km (34.8 miles) south of Tel Aviv,  is an ancient city on the shores of the Mediterranean that has welcomed about 43,000 immigrants and residents from about 1993 to 2005's  12 year period which doubled its population so that by March 2005, had over 116,000 people.  35,000 were from the Soviet Union and 3,000 were from Ethiopia.  The rest were from South America, France and other countries.  250 South African families immigrated in 2002-2005.  The temperature here is pleasant year round.  They predict a population of 150,000 by 2020.  80% of the immigrants found work in industry, construction, tourism, trade and services.  Many medical personnel work in Barzilai Medical Center and local health clinics.  They even offer professional retraining courses.  Ashkelon's marina serves as an official international port with mooring for 650 boats of all sizes. The port dates back to the Canaanite period.   It is also a tourist site with its 12 kilometers of magnificent beaches.  .  

Update on Christians: 10/25/16, 7:21am Resource: Facts About Israel 1972, Dividion of Information, ministry for foreign affairs, Jerusalem

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