Citing rampant Islamic anti-semitism and poor economic prospects, more than 5,000 French Jews are set to depart their homeland for the hopes of a better future in Israel.
France, trailing Israel and the United States, has the world’s third-largest population of Jewish people, with an estimated 500,000 of its citizens espousing the Jewish faith.
Newly minted Israeli citizen Laurie Levy told The Washington Post she could not be happier with her newfound home in Israel after leaving France in 2013. She said that for the first time, she feels safe wearing her Star of David around her neck. “Life is beautiful here. You work. You go to the beach. You see your friends. You’re not afraid. The irony is that I am more concerned about them than they are about me,” she said.
French Jews often cite concerns with the rise of Islamist ideologies along with anti-semitic sentiments spewed by individuals who support nationalist institutions such as the National Front party. “They are finding themselves between the extreme right of Europe and the radical Islam of Europe,” said Ariel Kandel, who runs the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Tiffany Nizard told The New York Times that the last straw for her was when four people were killed in an anti-Semitic attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels. She said that she was beaten and harassed by Muslim gangs, called a “dirty Jew,” and was also discriminated against in the job market. “I love France, and this is my country, but I am disgusted now. In Israel there is an army that will protect us. Here, I can no longer see a future for my children,” she said.
Countless horrific anti-Semitic acts have occurred in France over the past few years.
In 2012, a French national who recently returned from fighting for radical Islamists in Syria, killed seven people, including three children, at a Jewish day school in Toulouse.
The first three months of 2014 saw a 40 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents from the same period last year.
In May, two Jewish teens were beaten on their way to a synagogue. That same month, dozens of anti-Semitic inscriptions were found in Toulouse, including, “SS,” “Hitler burned 6 million Jews and forgot half,” and “Long live Palestine.”
Also, in June, two teenagers were reportedly attacked by a group of individuals with “North African” origins.