Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that Israel's goal for the coming decade is to bring half a million Jewish immigrants from the U.S., South America and France.
"It is doubtful whether there are more important issues for our future and the essence of both Israel and Israeli society than the subject of Jewish immigration," he said during his opening address to a conference marking Immigration and Absorption Week, which is being organized by Ynet.
"From its founding to the present day, Jewish immigration shaped the face of Israeli society and created a unique mosaic unlike anywhere else in the world."
Bennett talked of how the to subject was very close to his heart, being the son of Jewish Americans who immigrated to Israel after the Six-Day War.
"Immigration to Israel for me is a life-shaping experience," he said. "My parents, James Bennett R.I.P. and Myrna, who grew up and in San Francisco and immigrated to Israel after the Six-Day Year, in doing so made the most important decision of my life and of my Jewish identity. Over the years I came to understand that had my parents not come here, it is doubtful whether Judaism would have played such a central role in my life."
Bennett stressed that alongside efforts to encourage immigration, Israel must ensure and strengthen its ties to the global Jewish community and do all it can to fight anti-Semitism abroad.
"We are all brothers," he said. "Racism and anti-Semitism run rampant across the globe. They remind us that Israel is the home of all Jews. Even if you do not live here, this is your home. We must strengthen our cohesion as a nation, and also encourage many good people to take the step and live with us here in Israel. Overall, it's pretty wonderful here."