Israel on its 67th birthday is strong because its human resources are strong. The people who have come here in numerous aliyot (waves of immigration) since the 1880s have made Israel what it is today, a thriving, innovative, vibrant democracy. We allow our people to develop their own abilities that leads to technological and industrial development. They don’t sit around trying to figure out how to kill Arabs, they sit around trying to solve real problems.
Each wave of aliyah has brought with it its own contributions. Notably the last major aliyah (1 million people) from the former Soviet Union (1989-2006) brought many musicians and artists and raised the cultural level of Israel tremendously. The question is, was that indeed the last wave of Jewish immigration to Israel or will there be more. Perhaps the last source of immigrants could be from the Spanish-Portuguese world, the Bnei Anousim or descendants of the Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism from the 15th century. Although that was 500 years ago there remained a great reluctance on the part of other so-called “Old Christians” to intermarry with the “New Christians” or conversos, as the Jewish converts were called. Clearly this was a racial issue since the purity of blood became a serious issue for the Catholics of Spain and Portugal.
Also, many of the converted Jews retained some Jewish rituals and they kept close tabs on their children’s spouses to ensure that thru the generations they remained Jewish. Many were detected and tortured by the Inquisition, but many survived, particularly by fleeing from the Inquisition to the periphery of the Spanish/Portuguese colonial world. Thus, many Bnei Anousim survived in Brazil, Central America, Mexico and North America (New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana). It has been estimated that there are now ca. 20 million such descendants of formerly Jewish origin. How many of them would choose to return to the Jewish people or even making aliyah to Israel is of course unknown, but even a small percentage could be many thousands of people. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, if the remnants of the Jewish people who were forcibly converted to Christianity and persecuted by the Inquisition were able to finally return to their roots.