International studies on immigration, including several conducted in Israel, consistently show that the length of time in the destination country positively affects integration into employment, language acquisition and other spheres of life. The current study, which is the first conducted in Israel on immigrants from Ethiopia who have been in Israel for 20 years or more, examines the quality of their integration over this lengthy period of time.
Ethiopian immigrants who arrived in Israel between 1979 and 1991 when they were 0-45 years old constitute 22% of the Ethiopian-Israeli community in Israel. They are currently aged 23-65, but half are aged 23-34. The goal of the current study was to learn about their educational and employment achievements; economic status; social integration; sense of belonging in Israel along with continued identification with their Ethiopian heritage; the integration of their children into the educational system; their satisfaction with their integration in Israel and the difficulties with which they are contending today. .
After 20 years in Israel, the Ethiopian immigrants report the main difficulties they have to contend with are housing problems (39%), financial problems (35%), the negative attitudes of other Israelis (31%) and cultural differences (22%). All of these problems, except housing, are less prevalent today than they were in the past. We also investigated problems related to the second generation of Ethiopian Israelis and found, for example, that 20% of the parents of children aged 15-17 report disciplinary problems for their children in school.
Gaps in the rates of employment have been closed. In fact, the employment rates among both male and female Ethiopians are higher than among the nonimmigrant Jewish population. Considerable differences remain with regard to occupations and wages, particularly among college graduates.
Progress has also been made in the area of education. Ethiopian immigrants who arrived at a younger age than 19, completed 12 years of schooling at a very similar rate to non-immigrant Jews. However, there still is a considerable gap in the percentage of college graduates.
Ethiopian immigrants demonstrate a strong desire to integrate into Israeli society while also emphasizing the importance of preserving their Ethiopian heritage. Their desire for integration is expressed by the large percentages who speak Hebrew in different social contexts, who served in the military or in the national service, who vote in elections and who report that at least half of their friends are from outside the Ethiopian Israeli community. However, about a third of Ethiopian immigrants report experiences of personal discrimination at work and in the military, and even more believe discrimination against Ethiopians as a group exists in different institutions such as the police, the education ministry and the military.
Despite the difficulties and gaps, Ethiopians living in Israel for 20 years or more express a high level of satisfaction with their integration in Israel and almost all feel at home in Israel.
The study was initiated by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and funded with its assistance.
Citations in the professional and academic literature
Haynes, B. D. (2018). The Soul of Judaism: Jews of African Descent in America. NYU Press.
Kuna, S., & Nadiv, R. (2019). The Embodiment of Otherness: Deconstructing Power Relations Between Staffing Agencies, Diverse Jobseekers, and Organizations in the Israeli Business Sector. In Diversity, Affect and Embodiment in Organizing (pp. 195-224). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Mola, S. (2016). Ethiopian Immigrants and the Perception of Media. In A Justice-Based Approach for New Media Policy(pp. 71-85). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Amzalag, M., Elias, N., & Kali, Y. (1771). Adoption of Online Network Tools by Minority Students: The Case of Students of Ethiopian Origin in Israel. IJIKM, 8, 2013.