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(Hebrew) 1. "Going Up;"

2. Refers specifically to immigration to Israel or the holy land, a term in use since the dispersion of the Jews or before, and referred to in the book of Ezra 1 .

3. One of several waves of immigration (Aliyot ) in modern Zionist history.

About 400,000 Jews in all (after accounting for emigrants) immigrated to Israel in the five pre-state Aliyot and illegal immigration.

In the first three years of its existence, Israel took in over 500,000 new immigrants. These included displaced persons (DPs) who had survived the Nazi Holocaust and were concentrated in camps in Europe, awaiting permission to immigrate during the mandate period, about 49,000 Yemenite Jews (most of the Jewish population of Yemen) brought over in operation magic carpet and 114,000 Iraqi Jews who fled Iraq in Operation Ezra and Nehemia. The total number of immigrants in those three years was nearly as great as the Jewish population of Israel. Israel was still fighting a war in 1948, and had no money to house these immigrants and no employment opportunities. Immigrants lived in tents and afterwards for many years were housed in Ma'abarot - transit camps with poor housing, sanitation and other facilities. To finance the immigration, the government instituted a draconic rationing system, the tzena, supervised by finance minister Dov Yosef, the same man who had organized the rationing system in Jerusalem during the War of Independence. Immigrants from Arab countries, who had no relatives in Israel and nobody from their countries in high government positions, suffered most. The poverty and hardship of this period left bitter memories for many, but the Aliyot secured Israel as a viable state with a reasonable population size, and helped to generate the highest economic growth rate in the world for well over a decade.

More recent mass immigrations included the Jews of Ethiopia and Russian Jews. About 14,000 Ethiopian Jews  were brought to Israel in the Operation Solomon air-lift in 1991, while others trekked through Africa to reach transit  points. A small trickle of Soviet Jews had been allowed into Israel over the years. The collapse of communism in the USSR brought a mass immigration - about 100,000 Jews came to Israel from the countries of the former Soviet Union each year for a decade. This immigration has slowed to a trickle because the remaining Jews in those countries are not interested in immigration, and because of the worsening security situation in Israel since 2000.

Other immigrations - Israel took in about 30,000 Persian Jews after the collapse of the regime of the Shah, as well as large proportions of the Egyptian and Moroccan Jewish communities, Kurdish and Turkish Jews, Indian Jews and Jews from every country in Europe and the American continent, South Africa and Australia.  Small numbers of refugees from Vietnam and Bosnia were also given refuge and homes in Israel, and there are plans to accept Sudanese Muslim refugees as well.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:  immigration to Israel, Aliyah

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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