The number of French Jews immigrating to Israel is up by 11 percent this year over 2014, Jewish Agency officials said Tuesday, as a planeload of 200 French-speaking immigrants arrived amid fears of an uptick in European anti-Semitism. Some 7,200 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2014, an all-time record, writes The Times of Israel.
So far in 2015, 4,260 French immigrants have reached Israel, up 11% from the 3,830 who moved to Israel over the same period a year earlier, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel, which facilitates immigration. The figures mark the first time that more than 1% of a Western country’s Jewish population has immigrated to Israel in a single year.
More than 20,000 French Jews have immigrated over the past five years, most of them young people and families. Analysts have pointed to increased fears of anti-Semitic attacks in France and elsewhere in Western Europe as driving the immigration numbers. 2015 saw a spate of attacks on French Jewish targets, an increase of 84% in anti-Semitic incidents from last year, according to the French Jewish communities security service SPCJ.
Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky said that in response to a rise in interest from European Jews, his organization had “significantly expanded” its efforts to bring Jews from Europe to Israel in the last two years. Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin said that the ministry was preparing for the arrival of between 30,000 and 35,000 immigrants from all over the world, writes The Times of Israel.