World Jewish News
France registered highest rise in aliyah to Israel in 2013 : + 63%
France saw the highest rise in aliyah, the immigration of Jews to Israel, over the past year.
In 2013, 3,120 Jews arrived in Israel from France, compared to 1,916 in 2012, a 63 pct increase.
Over the last four years, between 1,000 and 2,000 have arrived every year from France. Aliyah figures from Western Europe increased
Aliyah figures from Western Europe increased by 35 % in 2013, with 4,390 people immigrating to Israel from Western European countries as compared with 3,258 in 2012, according to the data released by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Immigration and Absorption.
Last year was also the first year since 2005 that more Jews immigrated to Israel from France than from the United States, despite the massive disparity in size between the two communities.
Around 600,000 Jews live in France, the largest Jewish community in western Europe.
Shay Felber, the Jewish Agency for Israel’s deputy director general for community service, sees two major factors behind the significantly higher numbers. The first is the ongoing economic malaise in Europe, which is affecting France in particular with unemployment peaking at 11 pct in July and August. The other driving factor is anti-Semitism.
“Although it has been going down over the past couple of years, French Jews remained concerned about the future,” Felber said.
A recent survey by the EU Fundamental Rights Agncy (FRA) showed that as many as 85 % of Jews in France believe anti-Semitism is a problem in their country, with 70 % fearful of becoming the victim of a hate crime. 46% of those surveyed had considered emigrating because of concerns about safety, one of the highest figures with Belgium and Hungary.
But these factors alone don’t explain why Jews seeking to leave France would choose Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over London, Montreal or Miami.
Rather, the trends represent an expression of the French Jewish community’s increasingly Zionistic mentality, particularly among young French Jews, and a manifestation of efforts by the Jewish Agency, the Israel government, and other non-profits to cultivate Jewish identity in France.
“If this year we have seen Aliyah from France go from under 2,000 to more than 3,000, I look forward to seeing that number grow to 6,000 and beyond in the near future, as we connect ever more young people to Jewish life and to Israel,” declared Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The Israeli government plans to launch a new program to encourage even more French Jews to make aliyah, the Israeli press reported.
The program, which will be implemented over a 3-year period, will receive state funding and will provide significant aid to new French immigrants. Some of these include easier license transfers for professions - including accounting and medicine - and greater allowances for business owners to open branches on Israeli soil.Youth programs will also be expanded to cater more toward French Jewry. The target is to double the number of immigrants each year: 6,000 in 2014, 12,000 in 2015 and 24,000 in 2016.
Other Western European nations also saw an increase in aliyah figures: Holland (+54 %) but only 74 people immigrated and Belgium (+54 %) with 240 new immigrants.
Only 2,680 immigrants arrived in Israel from the United States in 2013, compared with 3,070 in 2012, a 13 percent decline.
321 immigrants came from Canada, compared to 319 in 2012, 7,520 from the countries of the former Soviet Union (compared to 7,629 in 2012). Some 1,240 immigrants came to Israel from Latin America in 2013, a 34 percent increase over last year’s 926.