More Jews have left France for Israel so far this year than any other country, a leading Jewish group said on Friday, blaming a “climate of anti-Semitism.”
“France is today the leading country for Jewish emigration to Israel. It has never been before,” said Ariel Kandel, head of the French office of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Kandel cited figures from the Israeli integration minister showing that, as of August 31, 4,566 Jews had left France for Israel this year.
This was ahead of Ukraine (3,252), Russia (2,632) and the United States (2,218).
“We will get close to 6,000 departures from France in 2014,” added Kandel.
He cited a “climate of anti-Semitism that is losing its taboo” as well as economic difficulties in France, which is suffering from zero growth and record high unemployment.
A rise in anti-Semitism this summer came during Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza.
Even before the latest Israel-Gaza war, community leaders said anti-Semitism levels had reached worrisome dimensions and were spurring on record levels of Jewish emigration out of France.
From January 1 to June 30, Israel saw the arrival of 2,830 new immigrants from France — nearly a 250-percent increase over the 811 French immigrants who arrived in Israel in the corresponding period in 2013.
“Our lives have become absurd,” Nicole Yardeni, the head of the local branch of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities. “We endure daily insults and get spat on, a general feeling of anxiety because a part of the population has a poisoned mind that makes it their mission to hurt Jews, regardless of Gaza.”