Europe's Jewry

Drop in French Jews’ immigration to Israel ends record-setting boom

By i24NEWS

Jerusalem think-tank suggests investing in mechanisms to better integrate new arrivals into Israeli society

The number of French Jews immigrating to Israel this year is expected to drop by 40 percent, according to a new assessment published Monday, ending a three-year boom which saw France for the first time overtake the United States as the number one provider of new residents.

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), a Jerusalem-based think tank, estimates that 5,000 French Jews will resettle in Israel by the end of 2016, down from 7,000 in both 2015 and 2014.

The JPPI attributed the drop on the failure of the Israeli government to effectively integrate new arrivals into society. Specifically, the organization said, French immigrants have been discouraged by a lack of satisfactory job prospects.

“French Jews considering aliyah fear a fate similar to that endured by some of their relatives,” the JPPI said in its 2016 annual assessment.

“A chief concern is that they will find it difficult to work in their chosen fields or to earn at the level to which they have become accustomed. For these reasons, some French Jews are delaying aliyah or even moving to countries other than Israel.”

About a half of recently arrived immigrants from France have found employment in French call centers based in Israel, a 2015 survey found.

Other explanations for the slowdown put forth by the JPPI include an uptick in terror attacks and violence between Israelis and Palestinians in recent months, as well as a renewed committment by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to do more to protect France’s Jewish community.

Nonetheless, the JPPI report says that in two recent surveys, an estimated 200,000 French Jews still expressed interest in immigrating to Israel.

“The aliyah slowdown does not necessarily indicate that the pool of French Jewish aliyah candidates has ‘dried up’ or that interest in immigration has lessened. Rather, it likely indicates the existence of delaying factors that have yet to be addressed,” the report said.

The report reccomended that rather than focusing on encouraging immigration through aggressive marketing campaigns, the government should invest funds in mechanisms for better integrating new arrivals into Israeli society.

“Not is there a need for aggressive marketing campaigns or additional aliyah fairs. What is needed is a response to the basic needs of employment, including degree recognition, professional training, job placement and assistance in finding affordable housing,” the JPPI wrote.

France’s Jewish community is estimated at between 500,000 and 600,000 people, the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

Israel’s ‘aliyah’ policy encourages Jews from around the world to emigrate to the country. Since Israel was founded in 1948, more than three million people have done so.