World Jewish News
'Jews have no future in France', Natan Sharansky says
There is no future for Jews in France, Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) said in Paris during a meeting of the organization’s Board of Governors.
He said security has become a key concern for French Jews. “It is not necessarily a feeling of being threatened, but mostly of feeling uncomfortable in a place which is your home,” he declared. “Jews in France, in liberal Europe, are confronted today with feelings of hatred and with a new sort of anti-Semitism.
‘’They are often confronted with opposition to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. In some places in France, French Jews are afraid to wear the kippah. They don’t feel secure in their own liberal France,’’ Sharansky added.
In total, more than 8,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel last year, a record number that for the second year straight made France the largest country for aliyah or immigration to Israel.
Aliyah officials attributed the increase to a mix of factors including growing uncertainty over Islamist terrorist attacks, Zionistic sentiment by French Jews and France’s near-stagnant economy.
But aliyah reportedly decreased by 43 % in the first five months of 2016 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.
Sharansky attributed this drop to the “high housing prices in Israel and non-recognition in Israel of diplomas” of some French professionals. Sharansky said the Jewish Agency is in talks with the Israeli government to solve these issues.
Over the past two years the Jewish Agency has greatly expanded its activity in France.
“We have now a team of 30 people here, capable of taking care of 15,000 immigrants. At the moment, we have some 9,000 people interested at some level in immigrating to Israel. Within just a few years the Birthright project grew from zero to 2,000 students visiting Israel, and the numbers keep growing. We must concentrate our efforts in resolving issues such as recognition of diplomas, assisting those immigrants who are middle class in acquiring apartments and opening more ulpanim for youngsters and students. The demand is impressive,” the JAFI head said.