People from the region that later became Israel have probably been settling in Australia since the nineteenth century. However, the State of Israel was only proclaimed in 1948 after the United Nations voted to partition the British mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. Israel’s population doubled within a year of independence with the arrival of holocaust survivors and Jews from the Arab lands.
In Australia, immigrants
from Israel were first recorded in the census
in 1954, when there were 1,526 living in Victoria. At that time, 40% of the Israeli community was Christian and 37% Jewish; Muslims and people from other religions were not counted specifically in the census
. Within seven years, the community increased to 2,023 people, then slowly rose over the following decades. By 1976 the number of Jewish Israelis outnumbered Christian Israelis, and the proportion of Jewish Israelis continued to increase. Muslim Israelis remained a small fraction of the community.
In 2006 there were 3,267 Israel-born people in Victoria. Almost 73% were Jewish and 10% were Christian. Almost half spoke Hebrew at home while one third spoke English and 6% spoke Arabic. The majority today live around the suburbs of Caulfield, Elsternwick, and St Kilda East. Most of those in employment work as professionals, managers and administrators, predominantly within the retail, property and business sectors.
The Israeli community of Victoria is enriched and supported by several organisations, including Hamerkaz Ha’Israeli – the Israeli speaking group, Hamerkaz Shelanu – the Israeli Synagogue, and a variety of other Jewish Community roof bodies supporting Israel such as Jewish Community Council of Victoria, State Zionist Council and Womens International Zionist Organisation – WIZO. The State of Israel is regarded with emotional attachment and reverence within both the Israeli and broader Jewish communities. A variety of social, political and fundraising functions are held in support of Israel and its people on a continuing basis.