World Jewish News
Sharp increase of Jewish immigration to Israel from France in first months of 2014
Aliyah or immigration to Israel from France rose sharply in the first months of this year, figures from the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) show.
854 new immigrants arrived in Israel from France in January and February 2014, up from 274 during the same time period last year.
According to JAFI, this represents a threefold increase over the same period last year and are part of an “upward trend in French Aliyah.”
In 2013, 3,280 new French immigrants arrived in Israel, a 70-percent increase from 1,917 in 2012.
The 312-percent increase is attributed to efforts to strengthen relations with the French-Jewish community, to growing anti-Semitism in France as well as a worsening economic situation in the country, in particular high youth unemployment rates.
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA), a French watchdog group, has recorded a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in France in recent weeks, including a violent attack on a Jewish teacher and a knife attack on a Paris rabbi and his son.
At the end of last year, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) published a survey showing that a third of Jews from several Western European countries are considering emigration due to anti-Semitism, though it was not indicated that Israel is the only destination that they are considering.
JAFI expects 2014 as a whole to continue the upward trend in French-Jewish aliyah.
“2014 is set to continue the significant upward trend in French Aliyah, which saw the arrival of 3,280 new olim in 2013, a 70% increase compared to the 1,917 olim who arrived in 2012,” the agency said.
JAFI also reported that it had “seen a significant rise in the number of Jewish young people interested in participating in Israel experience programs.”
Bac Bleu Blanc, an agency program promoting “opportunities for life in Israel” for high school graduates, has enrolled 1000 participants while 1000 others are currently participating in educational frameworks here through Masa.
70% of Masa participants make aliyah, JAFI stated.
Thousands of Jews in France attended last month a special aliyah fair in Paris. Dozens of representatives of Israeli housing projects, businesses and corporations, government agencies, and schools were on hand to answer questions about immigration to Israel, and to discuss programs, benefits, and options for immigrants.
Around 600,000 Jews live in France.
Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency announced that it will allocate between four and five million dollars for activities and programs run by the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization and the United Israel Appeal aimed at promoting aliyah from France.
The plan includes boosting the number of Jewish Agency emissaries in France, increasing marketing efforts, developing new immigrant absorption programs and establishing a special committee to remove obstacles to French immigration.
The plan also sets clear benchmarks for increasing the number of immigrants, seeking to double their numbers in the coming years.