||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (October 2013)|
Row 1: Ada Yonath • Robert Aumann • Natalie Portman • Amos Oz • Yossi Benayoun • Shahar Pe'er
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States||106,839 - 500,000|
|United Kingdom||11,892 - 50,000|
|Hebrew, English, Russian, Arabic|
|Predominantly Judaism, minority Islam, Christianity, Druzism, Samaritanism|
Israelis (Hebrew: ישראלים, Yisra'elim) (Arabic: الإسرائيليين), are citizens or nationals of the modern state of Israel. Although Israel is a Jewish state, it has a multiethnic society, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. The largest ethnic group is that of Ashkenazi Jews with smaller numbers of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, followed by Arab citizens, mostly Arab Muslims, with smaller numbers of Israeli Christians (mostly Arab Christians), in addition to Druze and others minorities. As a result, some Israelis don't take their nationality as an ethnicity, but identify themselves with both their nationality and their ancestral origins.
Due to the multi-ethnic composition, Israel is a multicultural nation, home to a wide variety of traditions and values. Large-scale aliyah in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from diaspora communities in Europe and Yemen and more recent large-scale aliyah from North Africa, Western Asia, North America, Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia introduced many new cultural elements and has had broad impact. The resulting cultural mix may be described as a melting pot.
Israelis and people of Israeli descent can be found internationally such as in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. As many as 750,000 Israelis - about 10 percent of the general population of Israel are estimated to be living abroad, primarily in the United States, France, and Canada.
- 1 Population
- 2 Ethnic and religious groups
- 2.1 Jews
- 2.2 Arabic-speaking ethnic groups
- 2.3 Other citizens
- 2.4 Non-citizens
- 2.5 Israeli diaspora
- 3 History
- 4 Culture
- 5 Languages
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 External links
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, as of May 2006, of Israel's 7 million people, 77% were Jews of any background, 18.5% non-Jewish Arabs, and 4.3% "others". Israels official census includes Israeli settlers in the occupied territories. 280,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements in the Judea and Samaria Area, 190,000 in East Jerusalem, and 20 000 in the Golan Heights.
Among Jews, 68% were Sabras (Israeli-born), mostly second- or third-generation Israelis, and the rest are olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) — 22% from Europe and the Americas, and 10% from Asia and Africa, including the Arab countries. Nearly half of all Israeli Jews are descended from Jews who returned from the diaspora from Europe, while around the same number are descended from Jews who immigrated from Arab countries, Iran, Turkey and Central Asia. Over two hundred thousand are, or are descended from, Ethiopian and Indian Jews.
Israel has two official languages; Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the major and primary language of the state and is spoken by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority and by some members of the Mizrahi Jewish community. English is studied in school and is spoken by the majority of the population as a second language. Other languages spoken in Israel include Russian, Yiddish, Spanish, Ladino, Amharic, Armenian, Georgian, Romanian, Polish and French. American and European popular television shows are commonly presented. Newspapers can be found in all languages listed above as well as others, such as Persian.
In recent decades, considerable numbers of Israelis, estimated broadly from 653,000 to twice that figure, have moved abroad. (see also Yerida). Reasons for emigration vary, but generally relate to a combination of economic and political concerns. Los Angeles is home to the largest community of Israelis out of Israel.
Ethnic and religious groups
In 2013, the Supreme Court of Israel's three-judge panel headed by President Asher Grunis ruled, in rejecting an appeal requesting the state-issued identification cards register ethnicity as “Israeli” rather than that of the religion. Grunis also said that it was not the court’s mandate to determine new categories of ethnicity or nationhood. It followed a petition by Professor Uzzi Ornan who refused to be identified as Jewish in 1948, upon the state's founding, claiming to be “Hebrew;” at the time his request was accepted. In 2000, he wanted to register his ethnicity as “Israeli,” but the Interior Ministry refused the request causing him to take the case to court. In 2007, he was joined by former minister Shulamit Aloni and other activists. A distinction was made in the media that the passport mentions citizens as Israeli but identification cards mention religion. In the ruling, Justice Hanan Melcer noted that in the current situation “citizenship and nationality were separate.”
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|Jews and Judaism|
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2013, of Israel's 8 million people, 75.3 percent were Jews of any background. Among them, 70.3 percent were Sabras (Israeli-born), mostly second- or third-generation Israelis, and the rest are olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) – 20.5 percent from Europe and the Americas, and 9.2 percent from Asia and Africa, including the Arab countries.
The official Israel Central Bureau of Statistics estimate of the Israeli Jewish population does not include Israeli citizens, mostly Russian-descendants, who are registered as "others", as well as their immediate family members. Defined as non-Jews and non-Arabs, they make up about 3.5% of Israelis (300,000), and were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.
The ethnic division of The Jewish population of Israel (including non Halackic Russians) as of 2009 is as follows.
|Mizrahi Jews and Sephardic Jews||2,921,000||50.2%|
|Other Africa (Not South Africa)||3,000||0.05%|
|Beta Israel (Ethiopia)||130,000||2.2%|
|North America (Including 4,000 African American Black Hebrews)||165,000||2.8%|
The errors occurring due to these calculations were:
- There was no distinction made between Sephardim and Ashkenazim. (If the Sephardim, Mountain Jews and other non-Ashkenazi groups are included in Mizrachim, then Mizrachim will outnumber Ashkenazim by a margin of 52 to 48).
- Many Sephardim from Turkey were counted as Mizrachim.
- Mountain Jews, Georgian Jews and Bukharan Jews who together constitute ~15% of FSU Jews counted as Ashkenazim until 1996 (until 1996, Central Asia and the Caucasian Republics were counted as part of Europe. After 1996, from 1997 onwards they were counted as part of Asia).
- The Harbin Jews (~1,000) from China counted as Mizrachim, although they were Russian speaking Ashkenazim.
- After 1996, Russian speaking Ashkenazim from Kazakhstan, Kyrghizia and Armenia counted as Mizrachim.
- Close to 20,000 South African Jews were classified as Mizrachim, although almost all of them are Ashkenazim (Lithuanian, English and Afrikaans speaking).
- A few hundred Black Hebrews from the United States were classified as Ashkenazim.
- All Jews from Latin America were classified as Ashkenazim, although significant numbers are Sephardim (15–20% in Argentina and Mexico, 20%+ in Brazil, similar percentages in other countries). Close to three fifths of the Latin American Jews in Israel are Argentine, with one tenth each from Uruguay and Brazil.
- 86,000 Bulgarian/Greek Jews are classified as Ashkenazim, although the majority are Sephardim/Romaniotes.
- Jews whose Jewishness was not recognized were not counted; almost all of them were Ashkenazim (~275,000 in 2007).
Arabic-speaking ethnic groups
Arab citizens of Israel are those Arabic-speaking and culturally Arab citizens, mostly Palestinians who remained within Israel's borders following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the establishment of the state of Israel, including those born within the state borders subsequent to this time, as well as those who had left during the exodus (or their descendants) who have since re-entered by means accepted as lawful residence by the Israeli state (primarily family reunifications).
In 2006, the official number of Arab residents in Israel was 1,413,500 people, about 20 percent of Israel’s population. This figure include 209,000 Arabs (14% of the Israeli-Arab population) in east Jerusalem, also counted in the Palestinian statistics, although 98 percent of East Jerusalem Palestinians have either Israeli residency or Israeli citizenship.
Most Arab citizens of Israel are Muslim, particularly of the Sunni branch of Islam, and there is a significant Palestinian Christian and Arab Christian minority from various denominations, as well as Arab Druze, among other religious communities.
As of 2008, Arab citizens of Israel comprise just over 20 percent of the country's total population. About 82.6 percent of the Arab population in Israel is Sunni Muslim (with a very small minority of Shia), another 9 percent is Druze, and around 9 percent is Christian (mostly Oriental Orthodox and Catholic denominations).
The Arab citizens of Israel include also the Bedouins who are divided into two main groups: the Bedouin in the north of Israel, who live in villages and towns for the most part, and the Bedouin in the Negev, who include half-nomadic and inhabitants of towns and Unrecognized villages. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of 1999, 110,000 Bedouins live in the Negev, 50,000 in the Galilee and 10,000 in the central region of Israel.
The Arab citizens of Israel include also the Druze who were numbered at an estimated 117,500 at the end of 2006. All of the Druze living in what was then British Mandate Palestine became Israeli citizens after the declaration of the State of Israel. Though some individuals identify themselves as "Palestinian Druze", most Druze do not consider themselves to be 'Palestinian', and consider their Israeli identity stronger than their Arab identity. Druze serve prominently in the Israel Defense Forces, and are represented in mainstream Israeli politics and business as well, unlike Muslim Arabs who are not required to and choose not to serve in the Israeli army.
The Maronite Christian community in Israel of around 7,000 resides mostly in the Galilee, with some presentation in Haifa, Nazareth and Jerusalem. It is largely composed of former pro-Israeli Lebanese militia members and their families, who fled Lebanon after 2000 withdrawal of IDF from South Lebanon, though some originate from local Galilee communities, like one in Jish.
Some 1,000 Israeli citizens belong to the Coptic community, originated in Egypt.
African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem
The African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem is a small spiritual group whose members believe they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. With a population of over 5,000, most members live in their own community in Dimona, Israel, with additional families in Arad, Mitzpe Ramon, and the Tiberias area. At least some of them consider themselves to be Jewish, but mainstream Judaism does not consider them to be Jewish. Their ancestors were African Americans who after several years in Liberia migrated to Israel in the late 1960s.
About 4,000 Armenians reside in Israel mostly in Jerusalem (including in the Armenian Quarter), but also in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jaffa. Armenians have a Patriarchate in Jerusalem and churches in Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa. Although Armenians of Old Jerusalem have Israeli identity cards, they are officially holders of Jordanian passports.
There are around 1,000 ethnic Assyrians living in Israel, mostly in Jerusalem and Nazareth. Assyrians are an Aramaic speaking, Eastern Rite Christian minority who are descended from the ancient Mesopotamians. The old Syriac Orthodox monastery of Saint Mark lies in Jerusalem. Other than followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church, there are also followers of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church living in Israel.
In Israel, there are also a few thousand Circassians, living mostly in Kfar Kama (2,000) and Reyhaniye (1,000). These two villages were a part of a greater group of Circassian villages around the Golan Heights. The Circassians in Israel enjoy, like Druzes, a status aparte. Male Circassians (at their leader's request) are mandated for military service, while females are not.
Although most Finns in Israel are either Finnish Jews or their decedents, a small number of Finnish Christians moved to Israel in the 1940s before the independence and have since then gained citizenship following the independence, for the most part many of the original Finnish settlers intermarried with the other Israeli communities in the country, and therefore remain very small in number, A moshav near Jerusalem named "Yad Ha'Shmona"" meaning the Memorial for the eight or the hand for the eight was established in 1971 by a group of Finnish Christian-Israelis although today most members are Israeli and are predominantly Hebrew speakers.
Some Eastern European Roma are known to have arrived in Israel in the late 1940s and early 1950s, being from Bulgaria or having intermarried with Jews in the post-WWII displaced persons camps or, in some cases, having pretended to be Jews when Zionist representatives arrived in those camps. The exact numbers of these Romanies living in Israel are unknown, since such individuals tended to assimilate into the Israeli Jewish environment. According to several recent accounts in the Israeli press, some families preserve traditional Romani lullabies and a small number of Romani expressions and curse words, and pass them on to generations born in Israel who, for the most part, are Jews and speak Hebrew. The Romani community in Israel has grown since the 1990s, as some Roma immigrated there from the former Soviet Union. A community related to the Romanies and living in Israel and the Palestinian territories and in neighboring countries are known as Dom people.
Non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union many of whom are indigenous Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans and Belarusians, who were eligible to immigrate due to having, or being married to somebody who has, at least one Jewish grandparent. A very small number of these immigrants also belong to various non-Slavic ethnic groups from the Former Soviet Union such as Tatars. In addition, a certain number of former Soviet citizens, primarily women of Russian and Ukrainian ethnicity, immigrated to Israel, after marrying Muslim or Christian Arab citizens of Israel, who went to study in the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. The total number of those primarily Slavic ancestry people among Israeli citizens is around 300,000.
The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite inhabitants who have connections to ancient Samaria from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the beginning of the Common Era. 2007 population estimates show that 712 Samaritans live half in Holon, Israel and half at Mount Gerizim in the West Bank. The Holon community holds Israeli citizenship, while the Gerizim community resides at an Israeli controlled enclave, holding dual Israeli-Palestinian citizenship.
The number of Vietnamese people in Israel is estimated at 200-400. Most of them came to Israel in between 1976–1979, after prime minister Menachem Begin authorized their admission to Israel and granted them political asylum. The Vietnamese people living in Israel are Israeli citizens who also serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Today, the majority of the community lives in the Gush Dan area in the center of Israel but also a few dozen Vietnamese-Israelis or Israelis of Vietnamese origin live in Haifa, Jerusalem and Ofakim.
Naturalized foreign workers
The number and status of African refugees in Israel is disputed and controversial but it is estimated that at least 16,000 refugees mainly from Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast reside and work in Israel. A recent check (late 2011) published in Ynet pointed out the Number only in Tel Aviv is 40,000 which represents 10 percent of the city's population. The vast majority is living at the southern parts of the city. There is a significant population in the southern Israeli cities of Eilat, Arad and BeerSheva.
There are around 300,000 foreign workers, residing in Israel under temporary work visas. Most of those foreign workers engage in agriculture and construction. The main groups of those foreign workers include the Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Nigerian, Romanian and Latin Americans.
Approximately 100-200 refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo, Kurdistan and North Korea who were absorbed in Israel as refugees, most of them were also given Israeli resident status and currently reside in Israel.
It is currently estimated that there are 330,000 native-born Israelis, including 230,000 Jews, living abroad. The number of immigrants to Israel who later returned to their home countries or moved elsewhere is more difficult to calculate.
For many years definitive data on Israeli emigration was unavailable. In The Israeli Diaspora sociologist Stephen J. Gold maintains that calculation of Jewish emigration has been a contentious issue, explaining, "Since Zionism, the philosophy that underlies the existence of the Jewish state, calls for return home of the world's Jews, the opposite movement - Israelis leaving the Jewish state to reside elsewhere - clearly presents an ideological and demographic problem."
Among the most common reasons for emigration of Israelis from Israel are most often due to economic constraints, economic characteristics (U.S. and Canada have always been richer nations than Israel), disappointment of the Israeli government, Israel's ongoing security Issues, as well as the excessive role of religion in the lives of Israelis.
The vast majority of native-born Israeli Jews who emigrate abroad return after a period of time abroad.
United States of America
Many Israelis emigrated to the United States throughout the period of the declaration of the state of Israel and until today. Today, the descendants of these people are known as Israeli-Americans. According to the 2000 United States Census as many as 106,839 Israelis lived in the United States in 2000. Other estimates say the number of Americans of Israeli descent is around half a million.
Many Israelis emigrated to Canada throughout the period of the declaration of the state of Israel and until today. Today, the descendants of these people are known as Israeli-Canadians. According to the Canada 2006 Census as many as 21,320 Israelis lived in Canada in 2006.
Many Israelis emigrated to the United Kingdom throughout and since the period of the declaration of the state of Israel. Today, the descendants of these people are known as Israeli-British. According to the United Kingdom 2001 Census as many as 11,892 Israelis lived in the United Kingdom in 2001. The majority of Israelis in the UK live in London.
|This section requires expansion. (October 2009)|
The first account of an Israeli nation is a state which dominated the modern land of Israel, the Kingdom of Israel; its latest capital was known as the Davidian city (Jerusalem). According to the biblical account, the United Monarchy was formed when there was a large popular expression in favour of introducing a monarchy to rule over the previously decentralised Israelite tribal confederacy. Increasing pressure from the Philistines (originally from Greece) and other neighboring tribes is said by the Bible to have forced the Israelites to unite as a more singular state.
Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire until it was taken by British forces in 1918. The British establishment of colonial political boundaries allowed the Jews to develop autonomous institutions such as the Histadrut and the Knesset. Since the late nineteenth century, the Zionist movement encouraged Jews to immigrate to Palestine and refurbish its land area, considerable but partially uninhabitable due to an abundance of swamps and desert. The resulting influx of Jewish immigrants, as well as the creation of many new settlements, was crucial for the functioning of these new institutions in what would, on May 14, 1948, become the State of Israel.
The largest cities in the country Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem are also the major cultural centers, known for art museums, and many towns and kibbutzim have smaller high-quality museums. Israeli music is very versatile and combines elements of both western and eastern, religious and secular music. It tends to be very eclectic and contains a wide variety of influences from the Diaspora and more modern cultural importation: Hassidic songs, Asian and Arab pop, especially by Yemenite singers, and Israeli hip hop or heavy metal. Folk dancing, which draws upon the cultural heritage of many immigrant groups, is popular. There is also flourishing modern dance.
Religion in Israel
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2004, 76.2% of Israelis were Jewish by religion (Judaism), 16.1% were Muslims, 2.1% Christian, 1.6% Druze and the remaining 3.9% (including Russian immigrants and some ethnic Jews) were not classified by religion.
Roughly 12% of Israeli Jews defined as haredim (ultra-orthodox religious); an additional 9% are "religious"; 35% consider themselves "traditionalists" (not strictly adhering to Jewish Halakha); and 43% are "secular" (termed "hiloni"). Among the seculars, 53% believe in God. However, 78% of all Israelis (and virtually all Israeli Jews) participate in a Passover seder.
Unlike North American Jews, Israelis tend not to align themselves with a movement of Judaism (such as Reform Judaism or Conservative Judaism) but instead tend to define their religious affiliation by degree of their religious practice.
The Bahá'í World Centre, which includes the Universal House of Justice, in Haifa attracts pilgrims from all over the world. Apart from a few hundred volunteer staff, Bahá'ís do not live in Israel.
|Religion||Population||% of total|
|Unclassified by choice||302,400||4.6%|
Official figures do not exist as to the number of atheists or otherwise non-affiliated individuals, who may comprise up to a quarter of the population referred to as Jewish. According to a 2004 Israel Central Bureau of Statistics Study on Israelis aged over 8% of Israeli Jews define themselves as haredim (or Ultra-Orthodox); an additional 9% are "religious" (predominantly orthodox, also known in Israel as: Zionist-religious, national-religious and kippot srugot); 12% consider themselves "religious-traditionalists" (mostly adhering to Jewish Halakha); 27% are "non-religious traditionalists" (only partly respecting the Jewish Halakha), and 43% are "secular". Among the seculars, 53% say they believe in God. Due to the higher natality rate of religious and traditionalists over seculars, the share of religious and traditionalists among the overall population is even higher.
Due to its immigrant nature, Israel is one of the most multicultural and multilingual societies in the world. Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages in the country, while English and Russian are the two most widely spoken non official languages. Georgian, Yiddish, Romanian, Ukrainian, Amharic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Ladino, French, Persian, Hungarian, Spanish, German, Vietnamese, Thai, Tagalog and Polish are the most other commonly used foreign languages. A certain degree of English is spoken widely, and is the language of choice for many Israeli businesses. Courses of Hebrew and English language are mandatory in the Israeli school system, and most schools offer either Arabic, Spanish, German or French.
- This figure includes half a million Israelis living in the disputed Judea and Samaria Area and East Jerusalem
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- Eric, Gold; Moav, Omer (2006), Brain Drain From Israel (Brichat Mochot M'Yisrael) (in Hebrew), Jerusalem: Mercaz Shalem - The Shalem Center, The Social-Economic Institute, p. 26.
- Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Israel. "Population, by religion and population group" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-04-08.
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- , Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, CBS
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- Migdal, p. 135
- Migdal, p. 136
- Religion in Israel: A Consensus for Jewish Tradition by Daniel J. Elazar (JCPA)
- "The Bahá'í World Centre: Focal Point for a Global Community". The Bahá'í International Community. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- BBC News | Israel's modern immigrants
- BBC News | Israel faces Russian brain drain
- Kehilot | Secular & Religious Jewish Communities of Israel
- Israel Central Bureau of Statistics site (English)