The immigrant Israeli

An introduction to the national psyche

Israel is a nation of immigrants (although many Israelis rather speak of “returning to their homeland”). With a mix of cultures and heritages, Israel has developed its own modern culture.

Israel was established in 1948 as a refuge for all Jews. During the next 10 years, Israel's population more than doubled. Jewish immigrants came from over 70 countries, most of them refugees from the Second World War.

To get their new country up and running, Israelis had to be dedicated, innovative and optimistic workers. What they lacked in natural resources, they made up with hard work (a tradition which still continues today).

Immigration and the melting-pot

Since 1990, over one million immigrants have come to Israel, making the total population about 7 million. This contributes to a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural society.

Though the government has encouraged a tradition of tolerance, this mentality has not blossomed in practice. Only about a quarter of Israeli residents feel they have a positive relationship with immigrants. Many new immigrants tend to settle in separate communities, and the assimilation into mainstream Israeli culture may take a generation or two.

The Arab communities

About a fifth of Israeli's population is Arab. Many Arabs have trouble integrating into mainstream Israeli culture. Almost half the Arab population considers themselves religious, and they tend to live in Arab pockets within major cities and rural villages. Arabs have their own school systems which instructs students in Arabic, Arab history, and Muslim religious practises.


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