An Israeli is any
citizenof the modern state of Israelregardless of religious heritage or ethnic identity, including most numerously Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druzeand others.
The term "Israelis" should not be confused with "
Israelites", which denotes the ethnic groupas known to have inhabited the Kingdom of Israelin Biblical times.
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, as of May
2006, of Israel's 7 million people, 77% were Jews of any background, 18.5% non-Jewish Arabs, and 4.3% "others".cite web| url=http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton56/st02_01.pdf| title=Population, by religion and population group| accessdate=2006-04-08| first =Government of Israel| last =Central Bureau of Statistics |format=PDF] Among Jews, 68% were Sabras (Israeli-born), mostly second- or third-generation Israelis, and the rest are olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) — 22% from Europeand the Americas, and 10% from Asiaand Africa, including the Arab countries. cite web| url=http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton56/st02_24.pdf| title=Jews and others, by origin, continent of birth and period of immigration| accessdate=2006-04-08| first =Government of Israel| last =Central Bureau of Statistics |format=PDF] Nearly half of all Israeli Jews are of European descent, while around the same number come from Arab Countries, Iran, and Turkey, also, several hundred thousand are descended from Ethiopia, Indian, and Chinese Jews as well.Fact|date=May 2008
Israel has two official languages; Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the major and primary language of the state and is spoken by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority and by some members of the Mizrahi Jewish community. English is studied in school and is spoken by the majority of the population as a second language. Other languages spoken in Israel include Russian, Yiddish, Ladino, Amharic, Romanian, Polish and French. American and European popular television shows are commonly presented. Newspapers can be found in all languages listed above as well as others, such as Persian.
In recent decades, considerable numbers of Israelis, estimated broadly from 760,000 to twice that figure, have moved abroad. [ Andrew I. Killgore. [http://www.washington-report.org/archives/March_2004/0403018.html "Facts on the Ground: A Jewish Exodus from Israel"] Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2004, pp.18-20] Reasons for emigration vary, but generally relate to a combination of economic and political concerns.
Culture of Israel
The largest cities in the country
Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalemare also the major cultural centers, known for art museums, and many towns and kibbutzim have smaller high-quality museums. Israeli music is very versatile and combines elements of both western and eastern, religious and secular music. It tends to be very eclectic and contains a wide variety of influences from the Diasporaand more modern cultural importation: Hassidicsongs, Asian and Arab pop, especially by Yemenite singers, and Israeli hip hop or heavy metal. Folk dancing, which draws upon the cultural heritage of many immigrant groups, is popular. There is also flourishing modern dance.
Religion in Israel
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2004, 76.2% of Israelis were
Jewishby religion ( Judaism), 16.1% were Muslims, 2.1% Christian, 1.6% Druzeand the remaining 3.9% (including Russian immigrants and some ethnic Jews) were not classified by religion. cite web| url=http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton56/st02_01.pdf| title=Population, by religion and population group| accessdate=2006-04-08| first =Government of Israel| last =Central Bureau of Statistics |format=PDF]
Roughly 12% of Israeli Jews defined as "haredim" (ultra-orthodox religious); an additional 9% are "religious"; 35% consider themselves "traditionalists" (not strictly adhering to Jewish
Halakha); and 43% are "secular" (termed "hiloni"). Among the seculars, 53% believe in God. However, 78% of all Israelis participate in a Passover seder. [ [http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles2/relinisr-consensus.htm Religion in Israel: A Consensus for Jewish Tradition] by Daniel J. Elazar (JCPA)]
Israelis tend not to align themselves with a movement of
Judaism(such as Reform Judaismor Conservative Judaism) but instead tend to define their religious affiliation by degree of their religious practice.
Among Arab Israelis, 82.6% were Muslim, 8.8% were
Christianand 8.4% were Druze.
Bahá'í World Centre, which includes the Universal House of Justice, in Haifa attracts pilgrims from all over the world. [cite web |url=http://info.bahai.org/article-1-6-0-5.html |title=The Bahá'í World Centre: Focal Point for a Global Community |publisher=The Bahá'í International Community |accessdate=2007-07-02] Apart from a few hundred volunteer staff, Bahá'ís do not live in Israel.
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1948883.stm BBC News | Israel's modern immigrants]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/crossing_continents/4038859.stm BBC News | Israel faces Russian brain drain]
* [http://www.kehilot.org Kehilot | Secular & Religious Jewish Communities of Israel]
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