Pro-immigration organization Nefesh B’Nefesh this week rejected an assertion that just 14 percent of all new immigrants to Israel over the past eight years are Jewish.

The allegation was put forth by the NGO Hiddush, citing data gathered by the Israeli government, Israel National News reported. Hiddush—a trans-denominational progressive group backed by the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements—filed a freedom of information request with Israel’s Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, a part of the Interior Ministry.

“What we know about North American Jews who make aliyah [or immigrate to Israel] is in complete contradiction with the false data presented by the stated report,” Nefesh B’Nefesh told Israel National News.

“It is an affront to call [into] question the ‘Jewishness’ of these men, women, and children who have made the difficult decision to leave family, friends, jobs, and a certain lifestyle, to build their lives in the Jewish homeland.

“Additionally, our data, which we have verified through our partnership with the Jewish Agency, unequivocally contradicts the figures in the article. Less than 3% of [those] who have [immigrated to Israel] in the last eight years from North America have done so exclusively using section 4A of the Law of Return. Anyone who is at all familiar with aliyah … from North America knows that it is unfathomable that 70% of them are not considered Jewish according to halachah [Jewish law]. We therefore look forward to the revised data being published promptly,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh.

From the beginning of 2010 through the end of 2019, meanwhile, more than 255,000 new immigrants moved to Israel from 150 different countries, according to data provided this week to the Jewish Agency.

The largest numbers of immigrants came from Russia, Ukraine, France, the United States and Ethiopia. Immigration peaked in 2019, with some 34,000 people arriving in the country.

According to Jewish Agency data, more than half the immigrants arriving over the last decade (approximately 130,000 people) hailed from the former Soviet Union; more than 55,000 from Europe (with more than 38,000 coming from France); around 36,000 from North America (over 32,000 from the United States and more than 3,800 from Canada); around 13,420 from Latin America (around 4,320 from Brazil and around 3,150 from Argentina); nearly 10,500 from Ethiopia; more than 2,560 from South Africa; more than 1,950 from Oceania, the majority from Australia; and around 1,700 from the rest of Africa and Asia (among them around 1,180 from India and more than 190 from Hong Kong and China).

The report also showed that more than 3,040 new immigrants hailed from Middle Eastern states with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations.

“You came here from the four corners of the Earth in order to fulfill the Zionist dream and strengthen the State of Israel,” Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog said at an event for new immigrants.

“Over the last 10 years, more than a quarter-million immigrants made aliyah with assistance from the Jewish Agency. They chose to live in Israel out of a sense of deep connection and a desire to build their futures and the future of their children in this country,” he added.

Around 60 percent of those who immigrated to Israel during this decade were under the age of 45.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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