France is today the leading country in the world for Jewish emigration to Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) said. As of August 31, 4,566 Jews had left France for Israel this year.
“We will get close to 6,000 departures from France in 2014,” said Ariel Kandel, who heads the office in France of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The French figure was ahead of Ukraine (3,252), Russia (2,632) and the United States (2,218).
He cited a “climate of anti-Semitism that is losing its taboo” as well as economic difficulties in France, which is suffering from zero growth and record high unemployment.
A rise in anti-Semitism this summer came during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza with attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned shops in and around Paris .
Even before the latest Israel-Hamas war, Jewish community leaders said anti-Semitism levels had reached worrisome dimensions and were spurring on record levels of Jewish emigration out of France.
From January 1 to June 30, Israel saw the arrival of 2,830 new immigrants from France — nearly a 250-percent increase over the 811 French immigrants who arrived in Israel in the corresponding period in 2013.
France has the largest Jewish population in Europe with between 500 and 600,000 people. It is also home to the continent's biggest Muslim community, which is estimated at around five million.
by Joseph Byron