- Despite the fact that since 1948 Israel had successfully absorbed more than 2 million immigrants (see ALIYA), there was also the phenomenon of emigration from the country. Essentially, persons leaving the country for long-term absences and de facto emigration belonged to one of three distinct groups: former immigrants returning to their country of origin; former immigrants emigrating to a third country; or emigrants who were born and raised in Israel. Historically, the number of emigrants was always only a small proportion of the overall population and was outweighed by the number of immigrants to the country. Nevertheless, relatively large expatriate communities (totaling some 600,000 by 2004) arose in the United States (350,000), Canada (40,000), France (40,000), Great Britain (30,000), South Africa (20,000), Germany (8,000), and Australia (5,000).Inasmuch as it was inconsistent with the core principles of Zionism, emigration from Israel was always treated derisively (indeed, the term used to describe the act of leaving the country, yerida, translates literally as "going down" or "descending," as in "going down from Zion"). Nevertheless, over the years, efforts have been made to entice Israelis residing abroad to return home. Not surprisingly, a positive correlation was discerned between the number of returnees and the strength of the Israeli economy and the prospects for peace and stability with Israel's neighbors. More than half (52.0 percent) of Israelis leaving the country in 2004 went to either the United States (43.5 percent) or Canada (8.5 percent). Of the 27 percent who moved to Europe, the United Kingdom was the most popular country (7 percent), followed by Switzerland (5 percent) and Italy (4 percent).
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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