85% of Israelis want stronger ties with diaspora Jews

What this shows, according to Michael Melchior, the Israli minister in charge of diaspora affairs is that "more and more Israelis want to invest in the future ties between Israel and world Jewry. It's very interesting that this [shows] more and more people feeling that this is a strategical asset for Israel, that there is a growing recognition among Israelis for this purpose."

Melchior was referring to the poll's finding that 81.6 percent of Israelis believe support from diaspora Jewry contributes to the well-being and morale of Israel, and that 80.2 percent believe the government should invest in projects that bring Jewish youth from around the world on their first trip to Israel.

Birthright this year will bring 15,000 students to Israel, with nearly 10,000 arriving for the winter. The students, from 21 countries, will be giving the sagging tourism economy a needed boost.