A whopping 27% of the Jewish population of Israel would leave the country if they could, according to a survey conducted for Masa Israeli – Israeli Roots Odyssey on the eve of its fourth conference to be held at the Knesset Monday.
The highest rate of those who wish to leave was among secular Jews, where 36% said they would have left. Among religious Jews only 7% expressed the same wish.
The survey identified a profile of an Israeli Jew wishing to leave the country: a secular male who is not in a relationship (bachelor, divorced, or widower), ages 23 – 29.
Another notable issue in the survey was identity – Israeli or Jewish. While 83% of respondents who said they were “traditional” and 90% who said they were “religious” said they define themselves first as Jews, only 53% of those who said they were “secular” see themselves as Jews first, while 44% are Israelis first.
The conference, headlined Masa Israeli as Agent of Change, hosts, among others, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Education Minister Naftali bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), and Opposition Head Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp).
Uri Cohen, CEO of Israeli Roots Odyssey, said in a statement that “the very fact that so many say they would leave the country if they had the opportunity suggests that many Israeli citizens do not feel a sense of belonging to the country. It is an alarming news which obliges all of us to deal with this difficult issue.”
Cohen added that the survey’s data attest to “a problem in the sense of identity, connection and belonging to the nation, the land and the state in a growing group in the State of Israel, and it is a reality which is already creating a tear and a split in Israel’s society as a whole.”