Natan Sharansky with Jewish Agency program participants 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy JAFI)
“Today in the free world, anti-Semitism does not encourage aliya,” Jewish Agency
chairman Natan Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
responding to a report by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) claiming
that between 40 and 50 percent of Jews polled in Belgium, France and Hungary had
“considered emigrating from their country of residence because they did not feel
According to the report, entitled “European Jewry – Signals
and Noise,” there is “no Israeli political determination to set up appropriate
structures to ease the professional and educational integration of new
immigrants from non-Russian speaking European countries.”
believes that anti- Semitism is causing the “younger generation of Jews to
distance themselves from Israel” rather than pushing them to move here and said
that, as such, the Jewish Agency focuses on the “more positive message” that
life is more “interesting and meaningful life in Israel than in any other
“We don’t say to people ‘look around, it’s dangerous where you
are – you should make aliya,’” he said.
Sharansky also cited an “increase
in the number of people making aliya from France, from Hungary and from other
places” as proof that Israel has not fallen down on the job regarding
According to the JPPI, 50,000 French Jews have come to
Israel since 1990 and there may be an additional 20,000-30,000 living here
part-time without having accepted citizenship.
Speaking with the Post in
Kiev last week, Jewish Agency director-general Alan Hoffman said that Israel is
at the end of the “epoch of aliya of rescue.”
“We don’t think that there
are more than 60,000 Jews living anywhere in the world today that in some future
[situation] could [require to] be rescued,” he told the Post.
the way to bring immigrants to the Jewish state from Europe and elsewhere is to
create what he called a “ladder of engagement” in which participation in Jewish
summer camps as well as Birthright and Masa programs which bring young Jews to
Israel would tighten the connection that they feel with the
Without that connection, he said, there can be no expectation of
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry also took issue with the JPPI
According to the JPPI, one possible “solution” to
the issue of European aliya could be the removal of “bureaucratic barriers, such
as those involved in gaining recognition of foreign degrees and professional
licenses, and a reexamination of the military enlistment
“The ministry is well aware of the issues at hand that
Jewish communities have to face abroad,” a spokesman responded.
ministry is prepared today to provide varied solutions in a variety of [spheres]
in order to absorb new olim in Israel.”
Moreover, the spokesman told the
Post, his department is working with the Health and Industry, Trade and Labor
Ministries to “assist in all matters regarding professional
“In general, the ministry is prepared to absorb” Europe’s Jews
and is “not scared of the numbers,” he said.
Aliya to Israel was
temporarily halted last week as a strike by Foreign Ministry workers has
prevented the issuance of new aliya visas.