French aliyah is up 312 percent in comparison to the same period last year, largely due to a faltering French economy and antisemitism.
French aliyah [immigration to Israel] has increased dramatically over the last year, with 854 newcomers arriving in the first two months of 2014, the Jewish Agency for Israel announced on Sunday.
According to JAFI, these new arrivals to Israel represent a threefold increase over the same period last year.
The Jewish Agency attributed the 312% rise in French aliyah to the work it has been doing, educating French Jews as to available options. Every week, about 300 people attend the Jewish Agency’s informational meetings about Israel.
However, JAFI’s efforts have also been aided by the faltering French economy and a significant growth in anti-Semitism across France in recent months.
In January, a massive anti-Semitic rally was held in Paris, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Europe since the 1930s. Approximately 20,000 people screaming anti-Jewish slogans attended the event.
Some French Jews have been physically attacked. The most dramatic incident took place two years ago, when a gunman shot and killed three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
France’s roughly 500,000 Jews represent the largest Jewish community in Europe.
French Aliyah: The Israeli Plan
Recently, the Israeli government has taken steps to encourage French aliyah, approving an initiative that includes a hefty boost in the amount of Israeli emissaries operating in France; a significant increase in the public relations campaigns targeting French Jewry, and the implementation of new procedures that will expedite the absorption process for French Jews.
The plan also sets clear benchmarks for increasing the number of immigrants, seeking to double their numbers in the coming years. This groundbreaking plan is the result of intensive cooperation between the Ministry of Aliyah Absorption and the Jewish Agency, along with the World Zionist Organization, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, and Keren Hayesod-UIA – all of which are working together for the first time in order to strengthen French aliyah.
Furthermore, the Israeli government is developing draft measures to recognize French diplomas and other qualifications.
Additionally, 1,000 young French Jews are participating in Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency that enables them to experience life in Israel.
According to government sources, some 70% of Masa participants contribute to French aliyah upon completing the program.
Last year, nearly 3,300 Jews from France immigrated to Israel, a 63-percent jump in French aliyah from 2012.
Author: Gidon Ben-Zvi, contributor, United with Israel
Date: Apr. 1, 2014