As fears of anti-Semitic violence in some European counties continue to grow, the Israeli government is predicting 2015 will see a 25 per cent increase on 2014 of the number of French Jews leaving for Israel. According to figures released by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption 1,800 more than the 7,200 who emigrated in 2014 are expected to move.
Although it is believed that between 500,00 and 600,000 Jews live in France, making it the world’s third-largest Jewish community after Israel and the United States, the European Jewish Press reports this summer alone 3,000 French Jews are expected to move to Israel. This adds to the 3,124 who have already ‘made aliyah‘ (moved to Israel) since the start of the year.
Due to a rise of anti-Semitic violence in Europe, such as the Jihadist murders at the Hypercacher kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes in Paris (pictured above) earlier this year, the last few years have witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of Jews emigrating to Israel. Year-on-year growth of immigration from France, which tops the list of countries from which Israel receives incomers, has been substantial in recent times. In 2014, about 7,200 French Jews moved to Israel whereas in 2013 only 1,064 relocated.
Although recorded anti-Semitic acts are on the increase, anti-Semitic sentiment is said to be declining. A recent poll commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found a marked increase in concern about violence against Jews in Germany, Belgium and France. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said:
“The poll found a marked increase in concern about violence against Jews in all three countries.The results indicate that heightened awareness of violence against Jews fosters a sense of solidarity with the Jewish community and that strong condemnation by political and civic leaders makes expressing anti-Semitism less acceptable.”
Not all migration to Israel can be explained by fear of anti-Semitic violence. The French figures do suggest a level of escalation in numbers towards the summer, but in other countries figures were already high for what they usually expected. For example, migration from both Russia and Ukraine was soaring which is put down to the rising instability both in and between the two countries rather than anything directly related to anti-Semitism.
The growth of French Jewish immigrants can also be attributed to deliberate Israeli policy. The Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency for Israel have made joint efforts to maintain high levels of immigration from France as well as to increase immigration from elsewhere.