Enrico Macias to make aliya
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Enrico Macias to make aliya

World-renowned singer says anti-Semitism in France drove him to the decision

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Enrico Macias and Yasmin Levy perform in Tel Aviv in 2011 (photo credit: Youtube screen capture)
Enrico Macias and Yasmin Levy perform in Tel Aviv in 2011 (photo credit: Youtube screen capture)

The Jewish French-Algerian singer Enrico Macias announced on Monday that he will apply for Israeli citizenship and settle in the country permanently.

“I feel free, I feel babayit sheli [at home],” Macias told Channel 2.

The 75-year-old explained that the increased threat of European anti-Semitism spurred his decision to relocate to Israel.

“Since a long time I want to do it, but I think now is the moment,” Macias said. “I think the anti-Semitism in France will grow, and I teach to my family, to my grandchildren. I will give the example to go, to live in Israel.”

Macias, née Gaston Ghrenassia, was born in the Algerian city of Constantine and moved to France in 1961, toward the end of the Algerian War of Independence. There he launched his music career with its distinct Oriental and Arabic sound.

Macias was named the Roving Ambassador for Peace and the Defense of Children in 1997 by then-UN chief Kofi Annan, and in 1980 was designated the Singer of Peace by UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.

A staunch Israel supporter, Macias visited Israel on multiple occasions.

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