Immigration to Israel was slightly down overall in the first five months of 2012, but figures from Western Europe were up, according to data released by the Jewish Agency this week. Between January 1 and the end of May, 5,961 Jews immigrated to Israel, seven percent less than in the same period last year.
More than half of the new immigrants hailed from the Former Soviet Union, and about 850 from Ethiopia. The US figures fell slightly — to 713 in Jan-May 2012, from 732 in the same period last year. Numbers from Western Europe jumped by 20 percent, with 994 new immigrants in the first five months of 2012, as opposed to 771 Jews in the comparable period in 2011.
Numbers from France were up by 13 percent in Jan-May compared to the same period last year, from 393 to 445, according to statistics released by the Agency on the occasion of its Board of Governors conference in Jerusalem this week. Numbers from Britain rose from 198 to 258; Italy from 17 to 54; Holland from 14 to 20, and Scandinavia from 10 to 20.
On Wednesday, the organization’s Arielle di Porto said the number of French Jews planning to make aliya had remained stable, despite the anxiety that followed a March 19 terror attack in Toulouse, during which a gunman killed four Jews, including three children. The number of anti-Semitic incidents sharply increased in the immediate aftermath of the attack but subsequently subsided, according to data compiled by the Paris-based Service for the Protection of the Jewish Community and the French Interior Ministry.
“The Jews of France did not hysterically call the Jewish Agency after Toulouse,” di Porto said at a session of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee. “Aliya from France is not an aliya of rescue, but one of choice. People come here because they want to live in Israel.”
Traditionally, most olim come during the summer months.