Fleeing rabid anti-Semitism and Islamic terror, French Jews come home to Israel, where they find safety and stability.
Some 130 French Jews, including 46 children and two babies, landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday, marking the start of a new wave of French Aliyah (immigration to Israel) expected over the course of the summer, Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption announced Tuesday.
Additionally, some 80 French Jews who had been in Israel on tourist visas became Israeli citizens and received their Israeli identity cards during a ceremony hosted by the Jewish Agency for Israel at the organization’s Jerusalem headquarters building on Tuesday.
According to data compiled by the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, more than 3,000 French Jews will immigrate to Israel this summer, including many young families whose children will enter Israeli schools at the start of the new school year.
Some 400 French Jewish immigrants are expected to arrive by the end of this week alone.
The current wave of French Aliyah comes in the midst of a joint effort by the Immigration Ministry and the Jewish Agency to maintain the high rate of immigration from France and increase Aliyah from around the world. Aliyah from France has risen steeply in recent years, and France has become the number one source of immigration for the first time, primarily as a result of the spike in anti-Semitism and Islamic terror in the country.
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 last 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.
In light of the heinous terror attack in France this past weekend and the rise in anti-Semitism, Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin called on French Jews to move to Israel. “We welcome the immigrants who arrived in Israel last night,” he said on Tuesday. “Every plane that arrives in Israel strengthens Israel and strengthens the French Jews who have come home. As anti-Semitism increases, terrorism surges and sick ISIS operatives carry out murders in broad daylight, Jews around the world know that they have a country and a family to return to. We welcome you with open arms. According to all forecasts, this is just the beginning of an unprecedented wave of Aliyah from France, and I am very pleased that the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption offices at Ben-Gurion Airport will be working overtime this summer.”
Growing Interest in Israel
Jewish Agency data shows that French Jews’ interest in immigrating to Israel remains strong and is reflected in the increasing numbers of French Jews participating in Aliyah information sessions across France, contacting Jewish Agency offices for information and beginning the formal Aliyah process.
“Over the past two years, the Jewish Agency for Israel has increased its activities in Europe in response to European Jews’ growing interest in Aliyah,” said Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony and presented new French Jewish immigrants with their Israeli identity cards. “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.”
Aliyah from France has more than doubled, from 2,650 in 2013 to approximately 6,000 in 2014. The Jewish Agency states that the 125-percent increase is due, in part, to new programs geared to young French Jews as well as to joint efforts to ease the immigration and absorption process.