Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 50

Emigration from Russia to Israel doubled during the first two months of this year over the same period last year, an Israeli organization reported yesterday. According to the Jewish Agency, a quasi-government body, more than 3,300 people emigrated from Russia to Israel in January and February of this year. The figure for the same months of last year was 1,676. A statement from the Jewish Agency attributed the rise to Russia’s economic troubles and to increased incidences of anti-Semitism in Russia. Immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union had slowed in recent years (AP, March 11).

Suggestions that Jewish immigration to Israel might increase significantly were first heard last autumn in the wake of Russia’s financial meltdown. Israeli officials disputed the notion at that time, however, and said that official data indicated no increase in the number of requests for entry visas to Israel from Russia (see the Monitor, September 10-11, 1998).

The recent upturn in immigration figures therefore suggests that the enduring nature of Russia’s economic woes may finally be taking its toll on the country’s Jewish population. Amid Russia’s economic and political turmoil, manifestations of anti-Semitism have also become more prevalent. As the Jewish Agency suggested, that too could explain the rise in immigration figures. The agency said yesterday that it expects immigration to Israel to continue to increase in the coming months. That estimate was based on the number of visas issued and flight requests to Israel. The agency also said that the number of students in Hebrew classes in Russia has doubled (AP, March 11).