A fellow I know who is normally a reasonable chap, well respected in his profession, good sense of humor but serious when called for, politics a bit to the left of what intelligent folks ought to think but generally an upright citizen, recently told me a very outlandish tale. He insists it's true, and claims to have seen part of the documentation.
Apparently someone did a large survey not long ago and found that about one third of American Jews, i.e. more than one and a half million people, might consider moving to Israel; of that third, a third (so, a number above 500,000) would be actively willing to discuss how such a move might be realized. The Jewish Agency knows about this survey, but is keeping mum rather than running with it, out of fear their donors will be peeved, since many of the donors wish to strengthen American Jewry, not see Jews move to Israel.
How plausible is any of this? Not very, to my mind. Over the past 62 years there probably haven't been 100,000 American Jews who moved to Israel and stayed. It's a free country (both), so if they wanted to, no one would stop them; even Icelandic volcanoes don't get in the way since it's possible to fly further south. I rather doubt there are 500,000 American Jews who give much thought to Israel in their daily lives; 1,500,000 willing to consider moving here sounds outlandish; even more so as at least 75% of American Jews have never visited Israel, ever.
It doesn't make sense - even though we do have cheap universal health care that keeps Israelis alive (statistically) longer than Americans. The part about the Jewish Agency suppressing the survey, though, for fear of causing a rumpus: that part is of course easily believable. The Jewish Agency is not the force it once was, when David Ben Gurion was its boss.
So that's the story. If any of you can add anything to substantiate or disprove this new urban legend, feel free. Even if not, perhaps the mere spreading of the legend will make people think about it.