This is a Chapter of the Study “How does the media on both sides of the Mediterranean report on migration?” carried out and prepared by the Ethical Journalism Network and commissioned in the framework of EUROMED Migration IV – a project, financed by the European Union and implemented by ICMPD. © European Union, 2017.
Political Division and Internal Fears Drive the Migration Agenda
Apart from brief interruptions, Jews have immigrated continuously into the originally Ottoman and later British-administered Palestine since 1882. Mass immigration characterised various periods of the 20th Century, especially the years before and after the founding of the state in 1948. The war that broke out with the neighbouring Arab states at this time led to the mass migration of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. Later wars generated further refugee movements, with the result that today almost three quarters of Palestinians, around seven million, live outside their homeland.
The population of Israel has doubled several times over the decades as a result of immigration. Since 1948 more than three million immigrants have been registered. In the 1990s Israel had the highest percentage of immigration worldwide in proportion to the size of its population. Since the turn of the century Israel has been dealing with the immigration issue more intensively.
There are several approaches to dealing with this which are reflected in the Israeli political and social arenas and as a consequence in the mass media coverage. In order to fully understand these approaches we must first draw a picture of the current situation regarding the immigration issue in Israel.
The term “immigration” in Israel refers specifically to non-Jews who enter or wish to enter Israel for work purposes or to unite with their families. All Jews in the world are considered potential citizens and can enter Israel and become citizens on entrance, if they wish to, according to the “law of return” that was ratified after the birth of the state on 1948.