Young French immigrants wave their new Israeli ID cards. (Miriam Alster/Flash90) (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
French Aliyah

New immigrants arrive in Israel. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

New immigrants arrive in Israel. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

More than 200 French Jews arrived in Israel this week, adding to the more than 20,000 who immigrated from that country over the past five years. 

The wave of French Aliyah (immigration) to Israel continues. More than 200 French Jews, half of them children, arrived in Israel Monday aboard a special flight organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.

Europe has seen a surge of anti-Semitic attacks throughout the continent, and the situation in France, home to 500,000-600,000 Jews, is extremely dire.

A CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) report, citing figures compiled by the French Interior Ministry, reported last summer that a total of 529 anti-Semitic acts were registered throughout July 2014, as opposed to 276 during the same period the previous year. The incidents, which include violence against individuals, arson and vandalism, “exacerbate the growing unease that oppresses Jews in France each day and overshadows their future”, CRIF said in a statement.

The current wave of Aliyah from France comes following cooperative efforts by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency to sustain the high rate of French Aliyah and increase Aliyah from around the world.

Massive Jump in French Aliyah

More than 20,000 French Jews—primarily young people and families—have made Israel their home over the past five years. Over 7,200 French Jews made Aliyah in 2014 – an all-time record, and the first time since Israel’s establishment that more than one percent of a Western country’s Jewish population immigrated to Israel within a single year. The coastal city of Netanya is the number one destination for French immigrants to Israel, followed by Tel Aviv-Yafo, Jerusalem, Ashdod and Ra’anana.

According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, some 4,260 immigrants from France have arrived so far this year, marking an 11 percent increase compared to the 3,830 who came during the equivalent period in 2014.

During the first six months of 2015, 3,160 new Aliyah files were opened in France, compared to some 2,509 during the same period last year. Registration for Aliyah information sessions reached 6,150, compared to 4,425 during the equivalent period in 2014.

Natan Sharansky

Head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky. (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin welcomed the wave of French Jews returning to their homeland. “This plane with 200 immigrants from France is just one of many arriving in Israel this summer. This is the second year in a row that we are seeing a significant increase in Aliyah from France, and so the ministry and the entire government are working to further increase the rate of Aliyah and dedicate more resources to improving immigrant absorption. This year we are preparing to receive between 30,000 and 35,000 immigrants from around the world, the most in a decade.”

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel. said that “we are seeing an unprecedented wave of Aliyah from European countries, which indicates not only how Europe is becoming an uncomfortable place for Jews, but—even more importantly—the extent to which Israel is becoming a magnet for Jews interested in a meaningful Jewish life, in freedom, personal security and a sense of belonging to a country that is integral to the future of the Jewish people.”