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Aliyah from Paris: Looking back on 2016

25 April 2017

The calm has returned to Paris. Sitting in the train on my way home, the headline of a Metro News-like newspaper catches my eye. Demain Matin headlines: “Number of racist incidents substantially decreased!” I turn the page and read that the Ministry of Internal Affairs counts 1,125 racist incidents in 2016. Compared to 2015 in which there were 2,034 racist incidents, a decrease of more than 40 per cent.

Recently, the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs reached a similar conclusion about anti-Semitism in France. In its annual report that was published last January, the Ministry concluded that anti-Semitism in 2016 had increased on a global scale, but had decreased in France with 65%. One of the reasons it highlighted for this decrease, was the three-year plan that Prime Minister Manuel Valls presented in 2015 and with which the French government allocated one hundred million euros for the battle against racism and anti-Semitism in France, especially on social media.

The calm seems to have impacted the aliyah from France in 2016 as well, as we look at the numbers. Although the Jewish Agency already foresaw a decrease in the number of persons making aliyah, 6,000 compared to the 7,876 persons that left in 2015. The total number of olim in 2016 was 4,883.

What was the reason for this decrease? In an interview with JTA, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the head of the Jewish Agency For Israel (JAFI)Natan Sharansky, explains that this is especially due to the fact that French Jews feel a little more secure in France than the years before. Moreover, the housing prices in Israel are high and often French diplomas are not officially recognized. France might thus be more attractive for them to stay than to part for Israel.

This does not mean that French Jews do not want to make aliyah. Sharansky also points out that there are at least 9,000 active files of Jews that are seriously considering making aliyah. For a lot of them, it remains a dream of their “coeurs”, of their hearts, to return to the Land of Israel.

With summer coming up and the French elections in April, May and June, we watch expectantly to see how aliyah in France will evolve next year.