The State of Israel is trying to persuade hundreds of thousands of its citizens living overseas to return home in a project to coincide with the state's 60th
anniversary next year, the Absorption Ministry announced Sunday.
The project, dubbed "coming home", will try to lure Israelis living abroad to come back with tax breaks, employment and small business loans.
About 650,000 Israelis live abroad, 450,000 of them in North America, the ministry said. The ministry began contacting them last month through direct phone calls, an Internet site and a hot line.
"What surprised us most is the amount of positive feedback we received from countries where the standard of living is very high," said Erez Halfon, director of the Absorption Ministry. "We received 285 calls from Israelis living in Switzerland, and of them, 15 families have committed to coming home."
"The project aims to bring 10,000 ex-pats back to Israel in the first year and double that number of the next few years. Between 18,000 and 21,000 Israelis emigrate each year," Halfon told reporters.
The estimated cost of the campaign is NIS 140 million a year, an amount the ministry believes will be paid back by the returning Israelis themselves. Within half a year of their being reintroduced into society as consumers, the government will get all their money back, Halfon said.
Halfon said the project aims to remove the social stigma faced by those who leave Israel, so they will have a softer landing upon their return.
Jews leaving the Zionist state can eventually bring about the end of the state's Jewish majority and Jewish character. This is especially true when the emigrants are religious Jews. Therefore, Jews opposed to Zionism must do all in their power to encourage their fellow Jews to leave the state and settle in other Jewish communities around the world. For example, charity donations should go to local institutions and the local poor rather than to institutions in the Zionist state. Poor Jews who emigrate should feel that they will be better cared for and accepted in other communities than in the Zionist state. More high-level yeshivas should be founded in other countries in order to draw students away from the large number of such schools in the Zionist state.