Following his announcement earlier this week of a new plan to promote and encourage French Aliyah, Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett on Thursday morning addressed the annual conference of Qualita, the umbrella organization for Olim from France in Israel, and vowed, “Since no one has led this issue up until now, I declare today clearly: I will be the ‘father’ of Aliyah from France. From now on, I am the French minister in the Israeli Government.”
“There are 200,000 Jews in France who would immigrate to Israel tomorrow if we would do what is needed,” Bennett said. “The situation in France is not good, and they want to come. This has been a tremendous missed opportunity, but we are not looking back, we are looking to the future.”
According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 3,157 olim from France arrived in Israel in 2017, compared with 2,567 from the US, and more than 14,000 from Russia and Ukraine.
According to Bennett, “We have already begun at the Ministry of Education with the program for children and youth from France, but this is just one part. Therefore, I raised the issue at the Cabinet meeting, and I was pleased the Prime Minister understood the importance and bestowed upon me the task to lead the formulation of the plan.”
The conference was held with the participation of organizations and associations working for French-speaking Olim in Israel in order to promote cooperation in their activities and training employees.
Ariel Kendall, CEO of Qualita, agreed that “the situation for the Jews in France and the anti-Semitism in the country mean there is a rare opportunity to bring many Jews from France to Israel, an opportunity the State of Israel is missing because it is not prepared to aid the absorption of Olim from France.”
“I hope that the new plan will be formulated soon, and will include solutions to problems in the areas of employment, education, and housing, to enable the State to absorb and settle tens of thousands of immigrants from France in a coordinated and effective manner,” Kendall said.