140 new olim from France arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport

The new immigrants were met by Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata and IFCJ president Yael Eckstein.

A new oleh from France is seen kissing the ground at Ben-Gurion Airport on August 3 after disembarking (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)
A new oleh from France is seen kissing the ground at Ben-Gurion Airport on August 3 after disembarking
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)
One hundred and forty new immigrants from France completed their aliyah process by arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday morning.
The new olim were greeted at the airport by Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, who is herself an immigrant from Ethiopia, and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) president Yael Eckstein, whose organization helped arrange for the flight.
Several of the new immigrants were motivated by the chance to escape discrimination back in France.
"I was fired because I was Jewish" Barbara Simha Bohadana said from Paris several days before the flight, according to a press release.
A pharmacist, Bohadana, a married mother of three, explained that her manager "did not even try to hide the reason for my dismissal. He just told me that a wig or any other sign of my Jewishness was not acceptable and that if I did not have them removed, I should just get up and leave. So I got up and left.
"My husband, Dan, an anesthesiologist by profession, also had a hard time finding a job because of his Jewish background," she added.
“We have always been Zionists and we knew we would make aliyah. We are a religious family and abide by a traditional Jewish lifestyle. I am so happy that we are moving to Israel and that we will never have to go through such experiences again.”
Antisemitism also played a role for some of the other new immigrants.
“My parents live in Israel, as well as my sister and a lot of other family members. We always knew we would make aliyah. We were always connected to Israel and maintained Jewish tradition," explained 41-year-old Lionel Giuili, who immigrated to the Jewish state with his three children and wife, Stephanie.
"However, the Hypercacher Kosher Supermarket Siege was the straw that broke the camel's back, and we finally decided to make aliyah.”
The siege in question took place at a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015, when an Islamic State affiliated terrorist murdered four Jewish patrons and held the supermarket hostage to ensure the protection of the perpetrators behind the Charlie Hebdo shooting, which had taken place two days prior.
The manager of the store, Patrice Oalid, who had been shot in the arm, later announced he would make aliyah because of the incident, according to a report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Many believe France has become more dangerous for Jews in recent years due to rising antisemitism, and Giuili is no exception.
"If, for example, while I was sitting and eating in my store and I heard someone enter the store, I automatically took off my kippah. Neither I nor my children walked around the street with Jewish symbols," he explained.
"My parents live in Jerusalem, and even before they made aliyah, I already had family living in Israel. I always felt at home in Israel. I feel free in Israel, and I no longer have to hide my Jewish identity. This reflex I developed that made me take my kippah off and put it in my pocket will no longer be necessary as I will be living in Israel.
“My children are very excited about making aliyah. They expect to see their grandparents and cousins, and I think they are going to be visiting the Mediterranean Sea all the time.”
The matter of the coronavirus pandemic is a present worry, but Giuili said he and his family aren't worried, citing how well Israel coped in the first wave.
"We are aware of the situation in Israel. Israel as a whole has coped well with the situation, especially in the first wave, when France was facing a shortage of masks,” he said.
Nearly half (60) of the new immigrants are children under the age of 18, with 11 being healthcare professionals, 17 working in the hi-tech sector and 27 with experience in liberal arts. Fifty of these new immigrants will relocate to Netanya, which has a high percentage of French olim. Thirty-one will move to Jerusalem.
"I was especially excited to see all the children who were happy to get off the plane to the new country, some of whom it is their first time arriving to Israel," said Tamano-Shatah, who together with Eckstein were eager to welcome the new immigrants to the country.
"In 2020, we will welcome over ten thousand olim from all over the world. It is a great privilege for me, as the Minister of Immigration and Absorption of the State of Israel, to manage aliyah during this challenging time," Tamano-Shata said, adding that this week another 600 olim are expected to arrive in Israel.
“I congratulate our brothers and sisters from France, who are Zionists and full of love for this country, and who today, thanks to The Fellowship, realized their dream of making aliyah and uniting with the people living in Zion. The Jews of Europe and the rest of the world are currently facing complex challenges, and every Jew should know that the gates of this country are still open, even during an emergency or crisis. This is home, and the Aliyah and Integration Ministry will accompany the olim in their first steps towards until they are fully acclimated to Israeli society, because only together are we stronger," she added. 
"It is times like these that olim remind us why we are here, and that at the end of the day, we are one big tribe," Tamano-Shata concluded. 
"We are proud to continue to bring hundreds of olim to Israel, even during a complex period as the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences," Eckstein explained.
"The arrival of the olim is not only a fulfillment of Zionism; it is also a sign for prospective olim to make aliyah in any situation. The aliyah and integration minister and her staff will ensure the optimal integration for each new citizen as well as their success and contribution to Israel’s society and economy."