Israel sees stream of Russian immigrants, not only Ukrainians

Young Muscovites mostly prefer Tel Aviv for its night life and culture.

By World Israel News Staff

Most reports on refugees arriving in Israel in past weeks focus on the absorption of those fleeing Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

However, the country is also filled with Russians who want to live in the Jewish state, including the young and educated, who largely prefer Tel Aviv, reports Hebrew-language website N12.

“I have a hard time with the Russian president and his administration. Everything that is happening now started already in 2014 (with the annexation of the Crimean peninsula),” Russian immigrant Ivan Grantowski, 28, told N12. He arrived in Israel earlier this month.

Grantowsky now fears he is being watched in Russia, where authorities “can put me in jail for many years just because I want to say my opinion on the administration,” he told N12. “Some people are approached by the police only because they wrote on Facebook that they are not happy with the situation.”

Israel could become a country of refuge for the Jewish community in Russia, which is considered one of the largest in the world, according to N12, which notes that apart from the ability who fit the criteria to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, Israel is also one of the only countries that does not require an entry visa from Russian citizens.

“People travel here in large numbers,” Maria Gaider, the 28-year-old daughter of former Russian Prime Minister Yagur Gaider, told the news site. “I see all the people here from my phone number. I was just walking down a street in Tel Aviv, and I happened to meet three people from Moscow,”she said.

Not all Russians who arrived in Israel are immigrants, she added. Many people come “because they are afraid that we will soon return to a period reminiscent of the Soviet Union…They want to come here and wait for changes in the country.”

Tel Aviv is known as the most expensive city in the world, and the influx of Russians has not helped the situation, to say the least. Gaider described the jump in apartment prices at the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine.

“Apartment prices rose immediately – both for sale and for rent…

“There are no apartments at all, anywhere. “Not only in Tel Aviv, but also in Bat Yam and Netanya. How did this happen? Because of the war. When the war started, demand began to exceed supply.”

Muscovites also prefer to settle in a place full of life and culture, Grantowski told N12.

“Tel Aviv is central, it is a cultural city – with cinema and music,” he said. “We live with friends in Tel Aviv, and I love the city very much. The problem is that prices here, and in Israel in general, are very high.”

According to the data of the Tel Aviv Municipality, which is considered the record of absorption in Israel for four years in a row, in 2021 3,069 immigrants from all over the world immigrated — most of them Russian-speaking, N12 notes . Those who choose Tel Aviv as their home constitute about 10% of all immigrants to Israel.

Although there are still no official figures on the subject, estimates range from several hundred to several thousand Russian citizens who have come to Israel since the war broke out, writes N12.