In light of these findings, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini, at a government meeting held Sunday, recommended easing the conversion process of many Diaspora Jews as a means of bridging the growing fissure between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel.
“The conversion problem is of paramount importance to many olim who immigrated to Israel by means of the right of return. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants to Israel face this problem, and we must simplify the conversion process for these individuals,” said Livni.
Noting the growing chasm between Diaspora Jewry and Israel, Livini said: “The link between Diaspora Jewry and Israel rests on a sense of solidarity with the Jewish homeland. Unfortunately, Jewish communities aboard are not experiencing this sense of solidarity, and their knowledge of Israel and its history is diminishing as well.”
Acknowledging that one of the biggest problems facing world Jewry today concerns acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the State of Israel as a Jewish national homeland, Livni maintained that the solution starts with the State of Israel itself.
“We must forge a growing awareness, right here in Israel, of who we are as a Jewish nation, and of what Israel represents as a democratic Jewish homeland.”
US concerned about Israel’s security; Europe less so
The Planning Institute study also found that roughly 5.5 million Jews reside in Israel to date, representing 41% of world Jewry, and the largest global Jewish community. The number of Jews in Israel increased by 6% in the last five years, whereas world Jewry declined by 1.2% during this same time period.
The US still shows the staunchest support for Israel, as indicate by the study, whereas Jews in Europe and Latin America show a waning affinity for the Jewish state. The biggest challenge facing Israel today, according to the study, is its security—a major concern for world Jewry as well.
Security aside, the study’s findings indicate that Israel is battling a wealth of socio-economic problems as well. Whereas Israel ranks a respectable ninth in the world in terms of healthcare, it only ranks 34th in term of education, and 26th in the world in terms of per capita real income.