A group of French immigrants landed in Israel on Monday, with many citing anti-Semitism as the reason they left France.
The 140 new arrivals came to Israel on a flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which among other activities assists those seeking to immigrate to the Jewish state.
“My parents live in Israel, as well as my sister and a lot of other family members. We always knew we would make aliyah,” Lionel G. was quoted saying in a fellowship statement, using the Hebrew term for immigration.
Lionel, 41, said the murder of four Jews at a Paris kosher market in 2015 by an Islamic State terrorist “was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” prompting his decision to move to Israel.
He said he was never a victim of anti-Semitic violence but like many other French Jews was impacted by it.
“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 said.
The new immigrants were greeted at the airport by Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata and fellowship president Yael Eckstein.
“In 2020, we will welcome over ten thousand [new immigrants] from all over the world. It is a great privilege for me… to manage aliyah during this challenging time,” Tamano-Shata said.
She added: “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.”
Last month, two groups involved with arranging immigration to Israel said there could be a jump in the number of new immigrants to the country in the coming years due to the coronavirus pandemic.