Jewish communities around the world are not letting terrorist attacks from Hamas deter them from relocating to Israel. This week, hundreds of French Jews arrived in Israel to settle in the towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon, while incidents of anti-Semitism continue to rise in France itself.
On Thursday, as the Israeli government announced a ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza, 430 Jewish immigrants from France arrived in Israel with the intention of permanently relocating. Of these, many came as entire families, with 195 children and 18 infants on the flights in. The numbers from France are to be expected– polls show that as many as 75% of the Jewish population of France is considering relocating– but the Jewish Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption in Israel is particularly pleased with the immigration numbers given the situation in the nation currently. What’s more, many of these immigrants are expected to stay in Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Tel Aviv, major targets for Hamas rockets.
The mass wave of immigration is seen by many as a statement of the commitment the international Jewish population has made to making Israel the greatest nation it can be. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who spent Thursday at Ben Gurion Airport welcoming the migrants, proudly told news publications that not one French immigrant canceled their flight into Israel on Thursday: “More than 1,000 new immigrants from around the world have arrived in Israel during Operation Protective Edge,” Sharansky added, “Today, 430 of you came from France. Not a single one of these new immigrants canceled or postponed his or her arrival. Welcome to the family.”
“We were even more determined, even with the rockets… it did not make me hesitant,” said Laurent Kalfa, an immigrant planning to settle in Ashdod, to the Agence France-Presse.
While the hundreds arriving this week are a significant number, the total Israel expects to resettle is far larger–the nation is expecting up to 5,000 immigrants from France, as immigration rose an entire 63% from France to Israel in 2013 and appears to only be growing. The living situation for Jewish citizens of France, meanwhile, appears only to be getting worse. The Israeli offensive against Hamas has triggered 26 different anti-Israel protests between July 10 and 16 across all of France, some with violent outcomes, prompting the Jewish communities of Israel to call for a ban on anti-Israel assemblies that threaten the safety of Jews in France. In addition to the recent protests, anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in France, as compiled by Tablet Magazine:
In May, a Jewish woman with a baby was attacked at a Paris bus station by a man who shouted “Dirty Jewess” at her. In March, a Jewish teacher leaving a kosher restaurant in Paris had his nose broken and a swastika drawn on his chest; an Israeli man was attacked with a stun gun outside a Paris synagogue; and a Jewish man was beaten on the Paris metro to chants of “Jew, we are going to lay into you, you have no country.” In January, anti-government demonstrators shouted “Jew, France is Not Yours” as they marched through the streets of Paris.