Israel Prepares for Mass Immigration of French Jews

Naftali Bennett
GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV – Israel is launching a government-wide initiative to encourage as many as 200,000 French Jews to immigrate to Israel, Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett announced Wednesday.

Concerned about their future in France in light of a series of Islamic terrorist attacks in recent years, as well as a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in general, French Jews are increasingly investigating the idea of resettlement in Israel. Data shows that 43% of French Jewry, or some 200,000 people, have expressed interest in making aliya, or immigrating to the Jewish state.

“Every Jew in France should know, as should Jews anywhere in the world, the State of Israel awaits them with open arms,” Bennett said in statement.

“Immigration to Israel does not end on the day of arrival, that is just the beginning,” Bennett continued. “The State should assist in absorption in all areas — language, education, housing, employment and more. We will do it.”

The proposal for the project, led by Bennett and National Economic Council Chairman Avi Simhon, will be presented to Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday. Representatives present will be from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure, Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

The final proposal will be drafted within two months and presented to the Ministerial Committee for Absorption and Immigration under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently serving as minister of absorption. The committee also includes Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Simhon and the prime minister’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz.

“These are ethical people, Zionists, lovers of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it is our moral obligation to help them,” Bennett said of French Jews last week.

In 2015, following a spate of terror attacks in which five Jews were killed, Netanyahu said in a televised speech that “the State of Israel is your home.”

“All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms,” he added.

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