Background: Ashkenazi Jews, as compared to non-European Jews and non-Jews, are at increased risk for colorectal cancer (CRC), this is attributed to genetic susceptibility and/or lifestyle. Aims: To follow Israeli long-term trends in CRC incidence and mortality and their associations with ethnicity. Methods: All Israeli CRC data accumulated 1970–2001 was used, age standardized rates (adjusted to world standard population) was computed by cancer site, US Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) Stage and ethnic group (continent of birth: Europe–America, Asia, Africa, Israel). Results: From 1970, CRC incidence increased 190% in males and 140% in females; mainly colon cancer (270% and 185% respectively) (P < 0.01), while rectal cancer incidence decreased and is now stable. Stage 3 CRC increased while stage 4 decreased significantly (P < 0.01 for both). In 2001, CRC incidence per 100,000 in European–American-born males was 48.3, Asian and African born 35.5 and Israeli born 32.7 (relative risk (RR) 1.36, P=0.03), while European–American female rates were 35 and all the others 26 (RR 1.35, P < 0.01). Overall survival increased 9% over 30 years (P 0.01), 5 years survival since 1988–1996 for European–American born was 43.1%, Asian 46.7%, African 47.5% and Israeli 55.8%. Stage-2 CRC 5 years survivals for 1970–1996 (most had no post surgical treatment) for European–American born were 41.7%, Asian and African 44.8% and Israeli 53.4% (P < 0.05). Stage-3 CRC survivals (most received adjuvant therapy in addition to surgery) for European–American born was 38.8%, Asian and African 43.3% and Israeli 45.1% (P < 0.01). Conclusions: Colon cancer has increased in Israel, mainly in males and European–American born. Israeli-born Jews (of 20 to 60% mixed ethnicity and lifestyle habits) have the lowest incidence and best survival data for stages-2 and -3 CRC. There is evidence of ethnic survival advantage and possibly in response to adjuvant oncological therapy.