Jewish immigration to Israel from Western Europe has reached an all-time high, the Jewish Agency said Thursday, reporting that 9,880 western European Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015 — the highest annual number since World War II. The agency believes these high numbers are the result of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
France’s Jewish community of an estimated 500,000 is the largest in Europe. Nowadays, French Jewish schools and synagogues are surrounded by soldiers who patrol the streets with automatic weapons. Though Jews make up less than 1 percent of the population, French officials say more than 50 percent of all reported racist attacks in 2014 were directed against them.
The Jewish Agency works closely with the Israeli government, acting as a link for Jews around the world. The vast majority of Western European olim, just under 8,000, came from France where the rise in Muslim anti-Semitism has chipped away at the Jewish population’s sense of security. France is home to the world’s third-largest Jewish community. For now.
Close to 800 Jews have made Aliyah from Britain, with Italy and Belgium next on the list.
“That a record number of European Jews feel that Europe is no longer their home should alarm European leaders and serve as a wake-up call for all who are concerned about the future of Europe,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
“At the same time, the fact that Israel has become the number one destination for European Jews seeking to build a better future elsewhere is a tribute to the appeal of life in Israel and the values the Jewish state represents,” Sharansky added.
It could be said that European Jews have not felt this threatened since World War II. Jews have been targeted in Belgium, Denmark and other European countries, but France has been the core of the attacks. Jews have reported an increasing number of assaults and intimidation from their Muslim neighbors.