Ten years ago then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged French Jews to move to Israel, noting that anti-Semitism was descending like a plague of locusts over French society. He was vilified by French Jews and the French Government. After the violent anti-Semitism that swept through France in the last twelve months, French Jews are finally listening. 2014 marked the first year ever in which France topped the list of countries of origin for immigrants to Israel, with nearly 7,000 new immigrants in 2014, double the 3,400 who came in 2013. Last year, nearly 3,300 Jews from France immigrated to Israel, a 63% jump in French aliyah (immigration to Israel) from 2012.
Overall, aliyah hit a ten-year high in 2014, with the arrival of some 26,500 new immigrants. This marks a 32% increase over last year’s number of approximately 20,000 immigrants, according to end-of-year figures released Wednesday by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
The Israeli government has taken steps to encourage French immigration, 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.
Furthermore, the Israeli government is developing draft measures to recognize French diplomas and other qualifications.
“France is today the leading country for Jewish emigration to Israel. It has never been before,” said Ariel Kandel, head of the French office of the Jewish Agency for Israel, in September.
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