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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bringing Israelis back to Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/12/bringing-isrelis-back-to-israel.html

The number of Israelis living abroad and their descendants is probably underestimated below. Wouldn't it be better to focus on the conditions that cause so many to leave, in order to give people a bigger incentive to stay?
 
Last update - 23:33 09/12/2007       
Absorption Ministry seeks to bring back Israelis living abroad
By The Associated Press
Israel is trying to persuade hundreds of thousands of its citizens living overseas to return home in a project to coincide with the state's 60th anniversary next year, the Absorption Ministry announced Sunday.
 
The project, dubbed "coming home", will try to lure Israelis living abroad to come back with tax breaks, employment and small business loans.
 
About 650,000 Israelis live abroad, 450,000 of them in North America, the ministry said. The ministry began contacting them last month through direct phone calls, an Internet site and a hot line.
 
"What surprised us most is the amount of positive feedback we received from countries where the standard of living is very high," said Erez Halfon, director of the Absorption Ministry. "We received 285 calls from Israelis living in Switzerland, and of them, 15 families have committed to coming home."
 
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed support for the project at a cabinet meeting Sunday.
 
"Every Israeli, even if he lives abroad, is Israeli at heart and knows that his home is here. I call on all Israelis to return home," Olmert said.
 
"The project aims to bring 10,000 ex-pats back to Israel in the first year and double that number of the next few years. Between 18,000 and 21,000 Israelis emigrate each year," Halfon told reporters.
 
The estimated cost of the campaign is NIS 140 million a year, an amount the ministry believes will be paid back by the returning Israelis themselves. Within half a year of their being reintroduced into society as consumers, the government will get all their money back, Halfon said.
 
Halfon said the project aims to remove the social stigma faced by those who leave Israel, so they will have a softer landing upon their return.

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