Following their expulsion and after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 CE, the majority of the Jews were dispersed throughout the world. The Jewish national idea, however, was never abandoned, nor was the longing to return to their homeland.
Throughout the centuries, Jews have maintained a presence in the Land, in greater or lesser numbers; uninterrupted contact with Jews abroad has enriched the cultural, spiritual and intellectual life of both communities.
Zionism, the political movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland, founded in the late 19th century, derives its name from word "Zion," the traditional synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. In response to continued oppression and persecution of Jews in eastern Europe and disillusionment with emancipation in Western Europe, and inspired by Zionist ideology, Jews immigrated to Palestine toward the end of the nineteenth century. This was the first of the modern waves of aliyah (literally "going up") that were to transform the face of the country.
On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed.
The Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of Israel stated: "The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and the ingathering of the exiles; it will foster the development of the country for all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex . . . ."
This was followed in 1950 by the Law of Return, which granted every Jew the automatic right to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen of the state. With the gates wide open after statehood was declared, a wave of mass immigration brought 687,000 Jews to Israel's shores. By 1951, the number of immigrants more than doubled the Jewish population of the country in 1948. The immigrants included survivors of the Holocaust from displaced persons' camps in Germany, Austria and Italy; a majority of the Jewish communities of Bulgaria and Poland, one third of the Jews of Romania, and nearly all of the Jewish communities of Libya, Yemen and Iraq.
The immigrants encountered many adjustment difficulties. The fledgling state had just emerged from the bruising war of independence, was in grievous economic condition, and found it difficult to provide hundreds of thousands of immigrants with housing and jobs. Much effort was devoted toward absorbing the immigrants: ma'abarot — camps of tin shacks and tents — and later permanent dwellings were erected; employment opportunities were created; the Hebrew language was taught; and the educational system was expanded and adjusted to meet the needs of children from many different backgrounds.
Additional mass immigration took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when immigrants arrived from the newly independent countries of North Africa, Morocco and Tunisia. A large number of immigrants also arrived during these years from Poland, Hungary and Egypt.
2014 saw a large spike in immigration to Israel, with a 32% increase in general immigration over 2013's numbers. As opposed to 2013's number of 16,968 immigrants making Aliyah to Israel, in 2014 approximately 26,500 individuals made Aliyah. Immigration from the Ukraine increased more than 190% due to the ongoing civil war and social unrest, and for the first time in history immigration from France surpassed immigration from every other country. Looking forward, Israeli officials predicted over 10,000 French individuals to make Aliyah in 2015. During 2014 more people immigrated to Israel from free countries rather than from countries in distress, demonstrating Israel's attractiveness as a place to live and do business. Aliyah from Western Europe in general was up 88% over the previous year's data, and Aliyah from the former Soviet Union was up 50%.
The rising tide of anti-Semitism and fear of terror attacks prompted the largest immigration of Jews to Israel from Western Europe in history during 2015. The Jewish Agency reported that 9,880 Western European Jews made aliyah to Israel in 2015, the largest annual number ever recorded. The vast majority of these immigrants (7,900) came from France, where there were two large national terror attacks as well as many individual violent attacks against Jews during the year. An estimated 800 of these individuals made aliyah from England.
Immigration from Western Countries
Immigration from the Soviet Union & former Soviet Union
Immigration from Ethiopia