Tuesday, October 14, 2014



By Steven Plaut


   The past few weeks the media in Israel has been all obsessed with reports that some Israelis are emigrating to Berlin.   Small numbers of Israelis have always emigrated to other countries.  In fact, the numbers were far larger in the 1950s and 1960s (when almost all emigrants were also recent immigrants to Israel).  The fact that some Israelis choose to go to Berlin is a bit disgusting, given Jewish racial memories, but not really all that newsworthy.  The media have attempted to connect the "out-migration to Berlin" with the cost of living in Israel.  If I had a shekel for every newspaper and radio report that says that these people are moving to Berlin because the cost of chocolate pudding is lower there, I could buy Teva.  Why the journalists are so obsessed with chocolate pudding is not really clear.  I propose it be called Puddingate. 


     One wag commented that it is not just chocolate pudding that is cheaper in Berlin.  In Israel one has to pay good money to get a tattoo on one's forearm, whereas in Berlin they are willing to give Jews a tattoo like that for free.   Haaretz, the Palestinian newspaper published in Hebrew, at least has challenged the pudding obsession.  It has repeatedly insisted that Israeli emigrants are going to Berlin because they are so disgusted with the ideology of the ruling Israeli Right.


      Ironically, the truth about the pudding emigration came out today in the same Haaretz.  To explain this, it needs to be pointed out that Haaretz is really a mix of two different newspapers.  There is the regular daily dose of treason, contained in the main section of the newspaper and in all of the Op-Ed and "analytic" pieces, poorly disguised even as it infiltrates into almost all the news stories.   But then there is a second Haaretz, which is the "Marker" business supplement.  The Marker is run by a completely separate team.  While as anti-Likud as the main newspaper moghuls, the "Marker" is not only the best business daily in Israel by far, it also tends to be the only voice of free market economic policy in Israel.  Go figure.  The main Haaretz is basically a communist front rag, but its business supplement is free market, anti-Histadrut, and proud of it!  My guess is that two thirds of Haaretz subscribers buy it because of the Marker.


     The Marker today fills in the missing facts about the hysteria over pudding emigration to Berlin.  As it turns out, emigration these days from Israel is actually at an all-time low (in fact, the lowest since the 1970s), and far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe and the rest of the world.  Emigration from Israel is also remarkably SMALL when compared to that from other OECD countries.  Switzerland, by comparison, suffers from a gargantuan plague of emigrants running to escape their country.  And the main reason for the remarkably LOW rate of out-migration from Israel is the high and rising standard of living in Israel and the low level of unemployment.   It is estimated that there are a total of 3,065 people living in Berlin with Israeli citizenship, probably most of them Israelis who had grown up in Germany or Russian Jews who did not find their place in Israeli society and chose to move to Berlin.


   Poor Haaretz!  How is it going to sell its snake oil about emigration being a vote of no confidence in the Israeli Right when the data about emigration come from the very pages of Haaretz itself!?!    

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