Immigration is an economic concern too

Immigration is a political and economic issue in Israel. Government policy should take both considerations into account.

The committee charged with unifying immigration responsibilities under a revamped Population Administration in the Interior Ministry seems to give disproportionate representation to political-defense concerns. The committee has representatives from the Interior Ministry and the Public Security Ministry, but aside from civil servants dealing with low-skilled foreign workers, none from the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor or other economic ministries.

For Israel to become one of the leading 15 countries in terms of quality of life, the government's policy toward immigration requires an economic perspective as well. Developed nations have long since adopted bi-directional immigration policies which encourage flows of high-skilled workers into their countries as well.

While non-Jewish immigration may seem to conflict with Israel's Jewish ethos, volunteers on kibbutzim or Dan Ben-David's recent suggestion to attract foreign students to Israel's universities prove that both political and economic concerns can be satisfied if policy makers are creative. As a first step, the bureaucratic mechanisms used to create immigration policy could also include representatives from economic offices.

Sources

Weekly Cabinet Meeting, 4/13/2008 (Hebrew Only)

Dan Ben David, Haaretz, 4/13/2008 (Hebrew Only)