Immigrants from North America arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90) (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)


For the first time, Israel’s parliament on Tuesday held special events highlighting Aliyah, the Jewish immigration to Israel, one of the cornerstones of modern Zionism.

The Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs held a festive meeting to mark ”Aliyah Day” in honor of the Olim, new immigrants to Israel. The event was attended by new immigrants, immigration activists, MKs and senior officials from the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption.

Committee Chairman Avraham Neguise, himself an Oleh from Ethiopia and one of the initiators of the Aliyah Day Law said that the special occasion “emphasizes the oxygen of the State of Israel – the new immigrants – Jews who were motivated by the Zionist and biblical force to return to their native land. They, who despite the difficulties in their countries of origin, the journey and the absorption difficulties – did not flinch and stuck to fulfilling the vision, each day, using action and thought.”

”It is important to stress, at least once a year, to the young generation, that the State of Israel was established thanks to the new immigrants who built it and were built within it,” he said.

Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, an Oleh from the former USSR, said that Aliyah to Israel was like the blessing of the rain to the land. “Without the immigrants – we would not have a state,” he stressed.

Minister of Immigration Absorption Sofa Landver, an Olah from the former USSR, said that ‘immigrants continue to arrive each day, and the Zionist vision and dream is fulfilled each day, with the same enthusiasm. We should salute the strength and courage to leave everything behind and make Aliyah to Israel, despite the absorption difficulties and the language barrier.’

“Nearly every person in Israel is an immigrant, or the offspring of one, and we must strengthen our hospitality, and allow them the feeling of coming home,” Landver said.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, a famous Oleh, noted that he still enjoys going to the airport and seeing the new immigrants step off the plane. “Thousands of generations have prayed that at least their children will come to Jerusalem – and here these prayers are answered,” he said. “The absolute majority of immigrants do so out of free will, as they are faced with many opportunities – and still choose to come here, and this is a great victory for Zionism.”

MK Ksenia Svetlova, formerly of Russia, emphasized that “immigrants are like a colorful mosaic which is not whole without all its parts, and it is impossible to exclude, confiscate or upset any of the parts.”

Later, the Knesset also held a special plenary session in honor of Aliyah Day.

Israel welcomed 36,000 new immigrants over the past year. Some 3.5 million people have made Aliyah since 1948, making up 42 percent of the total population.

At the conclusion of 2015, 75% of the population were Israeli-born – known as “sabras” – half of them second-generation. In 1948, only 35% were sabras.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel