Netanyahu: Repatriates have changed the face of Israel
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke of the most recent wave of aliya (repatriation of Jews) to Israel on Sunday, at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting which was set to discuss immigration and absorption, Jerusalem Post reported.
"Today, we mark 20 years since the great wave of immigration to the State of Israel. Twenty years have passed since the Iron Curtain fell, since the gates of the Soviet Union were opened to free emigration," the prime minister said.
He said that approximately 1 million olim (Jewish repatriates) from the former Soviet Union, as well as from Ethiopia, the US and Europe, had "changed the face of Israeli society" with their involvement in economics, security, academia, medicine, sports, culture and the arts.
He called this most recent wave of immigration "one of the greatest miracles to have happened to the State of Israel."
The prime minister told the cabinet there were still problems in the immigration and absorption process, and stressed the importance of understanding that "despite these difficulties, we successfully absorbed almost 15% of the population of the State of Israel in a few years."
"This is not something that other countries in the world do either easily or at all; most do not do so. We do so because it is our purpose and our mission. The ingathering of the exiles is one of the foundations of the Jewish state; therefore, we - like all Israeli governments - are committed to continuing this process."