Rise in aliyah does not signal 'Jewish exodus' from Europe, study finds

A new study published by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR) concludes that although some European countries had witnessed a significant rise in the number of Jews making aliyah to Israel there is no “exodus" of Jews from Europe.

According to a report by the 'Guardian' the IJPR compared recent trends of Jewish migration with cases of mass migration in response to persecution or major political upheavals in the past.

Jonathan Boyd, the IJPR’s executive director, told the newspaper: “There is no evidence of an exodus of Jews from Europe, even though the numbers of Jews emigrating to Israel from some countries in recent years – most notably France – are unprecedented. It is clear that Jews in parts of Europe are genuinely concerned about their future, most likely because of antisemitism, but the levels of anxiety and apprehension are nowhere near those experienced during previous periods of intense stress, like the 1930s and 1940s. Drawing those types of parallels has no basis in empirical reality.”

The IJPR study focuses on six countries – France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, which account for about 70 percent of the European Jewish population. It concluded there had been an increase in migration, especially from France, Belgium and Italy; but in the UK, Germany and Sweden levels of migration were not unusual.

Suggesting a definition of an exodus as 30 percent of the Jewish population, it said 4 percent of Jews in Belgium and France had left for Israel between 2010 and 2015. The proportion leaving from the Britain, Germany and Sweden was well below 2 percent of the total.

It said the differences between the two groups of countries pointed to “the existence of two distinct post-2000s trajectories of migration to Israel: “On the one hand, there is the British pattern, constituted by the UK, Germany and Sweden, where ‘business as usual’ seemingly prevails, and on the other, there is the French pattern, constituted by France, Belgium and Italy, where new winds seem to be blowing.”

Daniel Staetsky, the author of the IJPR report, said: “Large segments of Jewish populations in European countries perceive anti-Semitism to be on the increase. There is no perfect tool to measure the prevalence and strength of antisemitic attitudes in the general public, but some phenomena can be measured by their effects. Migration plays a very central role in Jewish demography, as Jews are known to move in response to a particularly acute deterioration in the political or economic situation. If Jews feel unwelcome in Europe, their movement out of Europe will serve as the first sure sign of that."

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