Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog welcoming some 300 new immigrants from France on a special Aliyah Flight, at Ben Gurion Airport on July 23, 2018.

Plans to rescue French Jewry from the escalating anti-Semitism that appears to be overtaking the population there were revealed this week in Israel by Deputy and Acting Chairman of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) Yaacov Hagoel, in a letter he handed to Israeli Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata.

“France is succumbing to anti-Semitism, and French Jewry must be brought to Israel in the immediate future,” Hagoel said while describing the plan, which touches on employment, government support, and service in the IDF.

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The plan is currently being discussed at the highest levels, with the objective of immediately bringing some 50,000 Jews living in France to Israel, and in the long run, ultimately half a million more.

“All government ministries must mobilize for this issue and bring the Jews of France to Israel, this is our Zionism today,” Hagoel stated Sunday.

Hagoel writes that in the near future, “Jews will leave France, as the situation in France deteriorates day by day and the economic situation worsens, anti-Semitism strengthens, and France surrenders to Islam and jihad.”

He noted that the remaining Jewish community in France is connected to Zionism and surveys show that they contribute to Israel in a variety of ways.

Hagoel points out that the Jews will leave France and it is very useful for Israel to absorb them, “to their home.”

Since 2015, there has been a decrease in the number of French Jews immigrating to Israel due to various barriers and difficulties of absorption, but the coronavirus pandemic, the deteriorating economic situation and the strengthening of Islam “gives us a one-time opportunity to break the barriers of bureaucracy and to bring French Jewry to Israel.”

He said a database of employers interested in employing immigrants in exchange for tax benefits or government subsidies should be established, and the placement bureaus should be established in France so that “immigration is smoother.”

A housing fair should also be held, rabbis of the communities in France should be contacted and Israel should attempt to bring the communities in their entirety to Israel.

“We have an opportunity that will not repeat itself; every shekel we invest in a new immigrant from France will return to Israel in the form of NIS 15 in about 10 years,” Haguel stated.

“This is Zionism, this is Judaism, and this is our tradition, beyond our worthwhile investment in the state. We will gain a new spirit, from cohesive and strong communities that have been together for centuries,” he added.

In January 2020, a survey by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that a staggering 70 percent of French Jews say they have been victims of anti-Semitism, 59 percent suffered physical abuse in school and 46 percent suffered verbal abuse at work.

Attempting to avoid anti-Semitic attacks, more than a third of French Jews refrain from wearing Jewish symbols in public, and a quarter avoid revealing their Jewish identity at work; 40 percent avoid arriving at certain areas to circumvent attacks.

Some 52 percent of French Jews have considered leaving France while Israel has seen several large waves of Aliyah of French Jews in recent years.

Between the years 2000 and 2017, 10 percent of the French Jewish community, the largest in Europe, immigrated to Israel.

In general, Israel is expecting a quarter of a million Olim (immigrants) in the next 3-5 years, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog told the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee this month, a wave of immigration following the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

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