France’s Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron, attended a prominent technology conference this week in Israel as part of an ongoing strategy employed by Paris to bring French Jews back to their home country, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In 2014, almost 7,000 French Jews left for Israel, citing most prominently the issue of Islamic extremism as a reason for their departure, and thousands have already left the country in 2015 in pursuit of a higher standard of living.
The report notes that many of the Jewish emigrants are highly-educated, and Paris has targeted these individuals as part of a strategy to combat its rising unemployment and staggering economy.
Mr. Macron told the WSJ that he was at the Tel Aviv conference to encourage young Jewish entrepreneurs to return to France.
“A lot of people have energy, vitality. They want to create jobs, startups, and innovate here,” the French Economy Minister said of the people of Israel, which due to its technological prowess, has earned an alternative name: the “Start-up Nation.”
“They can innovate as well in France,” he promised.
The Wall Street Journal report read:
Meeting with parents of high-school students and courting Israeli investors, Mr. Macron talked up the raft of government measures—from tax incentives to streamlined labor tribunals—that his ministry is in the process of implementing. In the interview, however, Mr. Macron said France Inc. was in need of a “cultural revolution” that no single piece of legislation could bring about.
Macron commented further on the downsides of the current French culture.
“In France we are largely based on status, which means that when you have a position, you respect the position. It means people are less keen on taking risks,” he added.
But some Israelis at the conferences didn’t seem willing to take the risks associated with going back to France.
“I was asked to choose: ‘Are you Jewish or French,’” said one of the conference attendees of his time in France before moving to Israel.
Another entrepreneur said that being Jewish in France “is like being part of a soccer team, and no one wants to pass you the ball.”