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Days after Nice attack, 200 French Jews immigrate to Israel

Jewish Agency head Sharansky tells planeload of new arrivals they have a future in Israel, while future in France was uncertain

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver welcome more than 200 French Jews who immigrated to Israel aboard a special Jewish Agency Aliyah flight, July 20, 2016.  (Nir Kafri for The Jewish Agency for Israel)
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver welcome more than 200 French Jews who immigrated to Israel aboard a special Jewish Agency Aliyah flight, July 20, 2016. (Nir Kafri for The Jewish Agency for Israel)

Some 200 French Jews immigrated to Israel on a group flight Wednesday, in a sign of a continuing trend amid European jitters over increased anti-Semitism and terror attacks on the Continent.

The flight, the largest of the summer from France, came less than a week after a terror rampage in Nice killed at least 84 people, though it was planned well before the attack.

French immigration to Israel has spiked in recent years as Jews in the country have expressed fears over being targeted by anti-Semitism and terror, with some Israeli officials calling on the country’s Jewish community to leave en masse.

Speaking at a ceremony at Ben-Gurion airport for the new immigrants, half of whom were children or teens, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, who last month said Jews do not have a future in France, focused on their decision to come to Israel.

More than 200 French Jews immigrated to Israel aboard a special Jewish Agency Aliyah flight, July 20, 2016. (Nir Kafri for The Jewish Agency for Israel)
More than 200 French Jews immigrated to Israel aboard a special Jewish Agency Aliyah flight, July 20, 2016. (Nir Kafri for The Jewish Agency for Israel)

“Many have questioned whether Jews have a future in France, but there is no question that French Jewry has a future in Israel. You could have chosen to go many other places, but you chose to come here. Each of you has taken a tremendous step for your children’s future and for the future of Israel,” he said.

Immigration from France to Israel has increased from 1,900 in 2012 to 7,800 in 2015, according to Jewish Agency figures. Since 2000, 10% of the French Jewish community has immigrated to Israel, half of those arriving in the past five years. 2014 marked the first year 1 percent of a Western Jewish community immigrated in a single year.

According to Army Radio, around 9,000 new immigrants are expected to arrive from all over the world this summer.

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