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Jewish migration to Israel on the rise

18 May 20150 comments
Jewish immigration pic

Photo: The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Jewish immigration into Israel has surged more than 40 per cent with Ukrainians and Russians fleeing instability in the region making up the bulk of
the émigrés.

Western Europeans concerned about rising Islamic extremism, especially after the Charlie Hebdo Paris attacks, are also contributing to the rise.

Between January and March this year almost 6,500 Jews arrived in Israel, the vast majority from Europe.

The figures produced in an interim report by the Jewish Agency for Israel, an NGO, reveal a substantial increase from eastern Europe.

In all, 1,971 people came from Ukraine in the first three months of 2015, a 215 per cent rise on the 625 in the same period last year. The number of Russians rose by almost 50 per cent to 1,515.

The numbers naturalising from France – which last year became the largest source of immigration to Israel for the first time with 7,000 Jews leaving – rose by 11 per cent to 1,413.

Commentators say that rising anti-semitism is one of the reasons behind the exodus but also the declining European economy and other social factors have played a role.

The Jewish migration is in line with a gradual increase in immigration from France over the past four years which has been largely attributed to economic hardship.

Reports in recent years of increasing anti-semitism in western Europe and attacks on Jews have led to predictions of a record-breaking wave of immigration in 2015 – specifically from France – following killing of four Jews in a Jewish supermarket in Paris two days after the Charlie Hebdo killings in January.

At the time, the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu encouraged Jews to immigrate to Israel en masse, saying he would “welcome them with open arms”.

About half a million Jewish people live in France, making it the second largest diaspora population after the US.

There was also a 43 per cent rise in immigration from Britain in the first quarter of this year. But the actual number of people who moved was only 166. When you consider that there are around 300,000 Jews in the UK, this is not a statistically significant number.

Immigration of Jews from North America to Israel decreased by 7 per cent with only 478 new arrivals in the first three months of this year.

Sheree Peterson
AMES Staff Writer