Alarming number of Israelis thinking of emigrating, concerned about domestic turmoil – survey

The Jewish People Policy Institute’s 2023 survey showed a sharp drop in Israelis feeling comfortable in their country since last year.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A whopping 37 percent of Israelis are considering emigrating as a result of the internal turmoil over the role of the judiciary branch and issues of religion and state, according to a survey published by a leading think tank.

“The sociopolitical crisis in Israel was this year’s dominant development in terms of its impact on the Jewish people,” said the just-released 2023 Annual Assessment of the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI).

As a result, an alarming number of Israelis currently hold or are thinking to acquire a foreign passport with the intention of leaving Israel permanently, the report said.

This roughly accords with the sharp drop in the number of Israelis (both Arab and Jewish) feeling comfortable in their own country. While last year the number was 76%, in 2023 it fell to 65%. On the other end of the scale, the 20% who already felt uncomfortable in 2022 were joined by many more, with the group now holding at 32%.

The survey also shows how the internal divide is growing. Pro- and anti-government citizens were asked what the other side believes, and their answers did not always accord with reality. For example, half of all Israeli Jews (49%) and a large majority (70%) of those who support the right said that the goal of the anti-judicial reform protests is “to prompt new elections and replace the government.”

However, 60% of those calling themselves centrists said the protests’ aims are just to stop the reform, or to stop it “and influence the government in other areas.” The number rises to 80% of the center-left and 84% of those who define themselves as pure leftists.

The religious-secular arena is also growing hotter, according to the survey. A full 58% of secular respondents felt that the level of religious coercion in Israel is between 8-10 on a scale of 1 to 10. However, the religious and haredi public had “a nearly as intense” sense that there was secular coercion, with a majority rating it at over seven. This, despite 45% of the secular public saying that the state’s Jewishness is ”very important” to them and an additional 42% saying it was “somewhat important.”

The assessment also questioned Diaspora Jews about Israel, whose “main emotion” was “anxiety” about the country’s future, it said, both due to external threats and “the internal dispute that threatens the cohesion and unity of the country.” While solid majorities of both Orthodox and Conservative Jews said they would still support Israel no matter what happened on the judicial or legislative fronts, most Reform and non-affiliated Jews said their attitude would “depend on the outcome” of the internal disputes.

The internal Israeli divide was not the only issue the JPPI assessment examined. It also surveyed, among other trends, the rise in global antisemitism and outside forces affecting Israel, such as the broader geopolitical situation and the country’s relationship with its friendly and not-so-friendly neighbors, as well as its international allies.