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Russian language in israel

The meaning of «russian language in israel»

The Russian language is spoken natively by a large proportion of the population of Israel, reaching about 20 percent of the total population by 1989,[1] mostly by immigrants who came from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s and later years.[2][3][4][5] It is a major foreign language in the country, and is used in many aspects of life. Russian is the predominate non-official native language in Israel. The government and businesses often provide information in Russian, and it is semi-official in some areas with high concentration of Russian Jewish immigrants.[6][7] The Russian-speaking population of Israel is the world's third-largest population of Russian native-speakers living outside the former Soviet Union territories after Germany and the United States, and the highest as a proportion of the population.[8][9] As of 2013, 1,231,003 residents of the Post-Soviet states have immigrated to Israel since the fall of the Soviet Union.[10] As of 2017, there are up to 1.5 million Russian-speaking Israelis out of total population of 8,700,000 (17.25%).[11]

The first large scale immigration of Russian-speaking Soviet Jews to post-1948 Israel occurred during the 1970s, but the "great migration" did not start until the late 1980s, during the last years of the Soviet Union.

About 100,000 Jews emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel from 1971 to 1974. Most of them were from Georgia; the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and areas annexed by the Red Army in 1939–1940, mostly Poland. Soviet authorities allowed this emigration by calling it "family reunification," to avoid the appearance that anyone was unhappy living in the Soviet state.[12] These emigrants held strongly Zionist views and took the opportunity to settle in their historic homeland.[13] Less than half of those who emigrated in the 1970s wave came from Slavic countries, i. e., Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, even though about 80% of Soviet Jews lived there at the time.[14]

It was not until Perestroika that Jewish activists were given freedom to operate. The emigration that took place from 1989 to 1993 is described as a "panic migration", due to the socio-economic crisis in the Soviet states, rather than a migration of "born-again" Jews.[15] Many of them did not have any relation to Judaism or Zionism in their former place of residence.[16] Most immigrants of this period came from Russia and Ukraine, and to a lesser extent from Belarus and Central Asia.[17]

The "old immigrants" of the 1970s, who mainly came to Israel for Zionist feelings, viewed people who came during the wave of the 1980s and 1990s as people escaping a harsh economic situation who did not have much appreciation for their new homeland.[18] The last Soviet census of 1989 indicated 1,449,000 Jews living in the country, of which about 877,000 had moved to Israel by October 2000. The wave of immigration in this short period of time was the greatest influx of people to Israel since the date of its creation.[1] Immigrants from the former Soviet Union composed 50%–70% of the newcomers.[16] The number of people who came to Israel in the late 1980s and early 1990s outnumbered the number of people who came during the 1970s by four times, which made it harder for them to be integrated into the mainstream society of such a small country.[17]

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