After several years of increase in French immigration, 2016 shows signs of a significant decline, despite the fact that 40 percent of French Jews say they are considering immigration to Israel (see Table 1 above).
The main barriers keeping potential immigrants from making Aliyah are related to employment, children’s education, and housing. This document proposes ways of overcoming these three obstacles, and of easing immigrant absorption. The employment barrier can be minimized through a focused effort on vocational guidance and degree recognition even before the immigrant leaves his/her country of origin, as well as by initiating training and placement programs for French olim after arrival in Israel. Because the French olim are highly educated (half of all French immigrants have higher education, and half are under the age of 34), there is no question that such an investment would prove productive and worthwhile for the Israeli economy.
In recent years, the Israeli government has focused successfully on improving the administrative side of Aliyah, resulting in the immigration of 20,000 people over the past three years. Actualizing the Aliyah potential of tens of thousands of additional Jews will entail employment-focused initiatives and efforts, both in France and in Israel.
If Israel prepares itself to offer such services, it will be able, for the first time in the history of Zionism, to welcome a mass Aliyah of olim from affluent countries. This would be a historic breakthrough, and would create an opportunity to test new mechanisms that may, in the future, foster large-scale immigration from other Western countries. The magnitude of this challenge requires a correspondingly monumental governmental effort.