Record number of French olim arriving

Jewish Agency expects greatest French Aliya since 1970, in spite of violence.

olim shleter 298 (photo credit: AP)
olim shleter 298
(photo credit: AP)
Despite the escalating violence in northern Israel, 650 French olim are set to arrive Tuesday, the largest French aliya on a single day since 1971. The olim are coming as part of a joint project between the Jewish Agency and the French aliya organization AMI, and will arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport on two chartered Israir flights. Five-hundred of the immigrants will arrive on a specially chartered 747 from Paris and another 150 olim will arrive on a smaller plane from Marseille. They will be welcomed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other distinguished guests, such as Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski and AMI founder Pierre Besnainou. The Jewish Agency expects close to 3,500 French immigrants to make aliya this year, the largest amount since 1970, when 4,414 olim arrived. Jewish Agency spokesman Michael Jankelowitz attributed the increase in aliya to the joint efforts of the Jewish Agency and AMI in promoting aliya in France, as well as the French community's strong ties to Israel. This is the second year of the Jewish Agency-AMI partnership. Last year, the two organizations brought nearly 300 French olim to Israel. New olim who will be moving to the North will, and already have, received specialized aid from both the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim toured immigration centers and immigrant residences in various northern cities on Monday, including Haifa, Kiryat Yam, Karmiel, Safed and Kiryat Shmona. Boim's first stop was at Haifa's Rambam Hospital, where he met with a resident wounded by a Katyusha rocket. During Boim's visit to an absorption center in Kiryat Yam, a siren signaling an incoming missile sounded, forcing the minister and center residents into a bomb shelter. Last Wednesday, Boim traveled to one of the largest synagogues in Paris to talk to the forthcoming olim. "He [Boim] spoke to them and promised them that when they come to Israel, we will be there with them at every obstacle they have to deal with," said Boim's spokeswoman Shiri Krispin.