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200,000 French Jews Planning Aliyah

March 30, 2016

by: Ilse Posselt, Correspondent, Bridges for Peace

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The polling service, Étude IFOP, recently released findings of an extensive survey conducted amongst French Jews. Some 43%, the findings claim, are planning to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel. In light of November’s massacre and ISIS’s subsequent threat, such a decision should come as no surprise. Yet according to Breaking Israel News, Étude IFOP conducted their survey in September of last year, some two months before the Paris terror attack. In fact, according to the findings, nearly half of France’s Jewish population had given serious thought to making a home in the Jewish state well before ISIS showed itself capable of striking at the very heart of France.

France boasts Europe’s largest and the world’s third largest Jewish community. At present, some 500,000 Jews call France home. If 43% of France’s half a million Jews implement their aliyah plans, Israel may soon welcome at least 200,000 new French immigrants to its shores, Breaking Israel News reports.

Étude IFOP’s findings seem consistent with a growing trend of Jews from around the world returning to Israel. In fact, according to the Jewish Agency, aliyah from Western Europe reached an all-time high in 2015, with some 9,880 European Jews coming home. Moreover, a staggering 81% of these new Western European immigrants hailed from France.

According to the New York Post, the reason is obvious. “Much of Western Europe has seen a definite and disturbing rise in anti-Semitism over the past 15 years. And nowhere more so than France—scene of a growing number of anti-Jewish attacks.”

Although Jews constitute but 1% of France’s population, more than 50% of all hate-crime attacks committed in 2015 were targeted at Jews. The atmosphere in certain parts of France has now grown so fraught with anti-Semitism that a Jewish community official has cautioned Orthodox Jews to refrain from wearing a kippa (yarmulke) or anything else that might identify them as Jewish in public. The warning came after a local Jewish schoolteacher was attacked with a machete outside a synagogue in France.

Only time will tell what 2016 will bring for the Jews in European countries—and especially France—who are facing a rising tide of anti-Semitism and terror. In the meantime, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invitation issued last year offers a promise of refuge: “Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”


Photo Credit: Cole Keister/unsplash.com

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