PARIS - About 6,500 Jews have made aliya from France so far this year. According to projections, some 8,000 Jews will have immigrated to Israel from France by the end of 2015, Jewish Agency spokesman Yigal Palmor says.
“We have noted a steady increase of about 10 percent this year compared to 2014, when 7,200 French Jews arrived. This increase continues the trend of recent years, so we don’t see a specific peak in the number of French immigrants,” he added.
Palmor’s words echo sentiments expressed by local Jews. They explain to The Jerusalem Post that it was the tragedy of Toulouse in 2012 that changed the tone, as far as French Jews were concerned, and encouraged young families and single young people to leave the country.
“Those who were able to leave, younger people who can build a new life in Israel, viewed the Toulouse massacre as a sign. It encouraged those who were already considering the possibility of aliya to take that step. But for others, our lives are here. This is our country,” says Jacques, a Parisian shop owner.
Indeed, following the attack on the Jewish community center in Copenhagen last February, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called upon French Jews to stay in the country, and not leave for Israel, as suggested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “My message to French Jews is the following: France is wounded [along] with you and France does not want you to leave.”
It seems that Valls’s call did not fall on deaf ears. And while the number of Jews leaving to Israel grows steadily, many of them emphasize that they still feel French and love their homeland. National emblems such as the French flag and the presence of representatives from all spheres of French life, be it political, religious or military, at the memorial ceremony held last night at the Paris Central Synagogue, reflected well these sentiments of belonging.