Dramatic Rise in Immigration of French Jews
The past two years have seen a dramatic rise in Jewish immigration from France, but this is not the first time there have been such spikes, according to “The Jerusalem Post.”
The first exodus came in 1949, a year after Israel gained independence, when close to 1,700 French Jews set sail for the new Jewish state. For a long stretch thereafter, the immigration figures hovered at around several hundred a year. Then came the 1967 Six- Day War, and for a period that extended almost until the 1973 Yom Kippur War, several thousand French immigrants arrived in Israel every year. In fact, up until last year, the record number of French immigrants in one year was set in 1969 when 5,292 arrived.
Dr. Dov Maimon, a French-born Israeli who heads the Europe desk at the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Institute, attributes that wave to the very strong ethnic identity of French Jews.
“About 80 percent of the French Jewish population comes from north Africa, so they’re relative new comers to France,” he notes.”I know it’s not politically correct to use this term, but they tend to be very tribal and feel a strong sense of brotherhood with Israel. The Six-Day War brought out a lot of Jewish pride in them, and many acted on that and moved to Israel.”
A leader of the French community said during a visit to Israel Tuesday that while in the past his community has supported Israel, now they are the ones in need of aid from the Jewish state.
Joel Margi, president of the consistoire, the umbrella organization of Jewish congregations in France, was part of a meeting od 20 Europen Jewish leaders at the Knesset Tuesday afternoon following the funeral of the four Jews killed during last week’s hostage crisis at Paris’ Hyper Cacher market.
Margi said that the support from other Jewish communities gives French Jewry strength.
“We are in a difficult situation, and it is hard to describe how afraid our children are to go to Jewish schools in France,” he said. “In the past, we said we don’t need Israel’s help. The opposite was true; We supported Israel. The situation changed and today the Jews of France need the State of Israel’s help.
On a day mourning and defiance, brave word and choking sadness, funerals were held on Tuesday in Israel and France for some of those who died in last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris as French leaders sought to reaffirm values that their country regards as its defining strenghts while taking steps to prevent further assaults,”according to New York Times.”
Israel buried four Jews killed in Paris on Friday when a militant claiming allegaince to the Islamic State seized hostages at a kosher supermarket on the final day of a three-day rampage by extremists. In Paris, three coffins draped in the French tricolor banner were laid out at the central police station as a solemn-faced President Francois Hollande led tributes to the officers who had perished.
“They died so that we may live in freedom,” Mr. Hollande said.
The pallbearers walked to Chopin’s funeral march under a chill and sullen sky. Even when faced with attack, Mr Hollande said, “our great and beutiful France does not bend, it remains upright.”
“I assure you,” he told the families of three officers, “that all of France shares your pain.”
As France and Israel buried their dead, the authorities intensified efforts to find accomplices of the attackers. The French National Assembly, meanwhile,approved the extension of the military campaign against Islamist extremists in Iraq.
The attacks continued to provoke profound soul-searching about the balance of liberty and security and, with a new cover of the satirical news paper Charlie Hebdo again depicting the Prophet Muhammad, debate over freedom of speech.
On Tusday, the authorities in Bulgaria confirmed that they had arrested a Frenchman who was believed to have links to Cherif Kouachi, one of the brothes accused in the attack on Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday. The Frenchman, Fritz-Joly Jocahim, has been held at the Bulgarian-Turkish border since Jan.1, before the attacks.A European warrant for his arrest was issued after his wife accused him of abducting their 3-year-old son in France.
A second warrant, issued by the French authorities on Sunday,was disclosed on Tuesday by prosecutors in the southern Bulgarian town of Hoskovo, not far from the Turkish border, where Mr. Joachim is being held.The French warrant charges Mr Joachim with “participation in an organized criminal group for the preparation of terrorist acts,” said Pavel Jekov, a spokeperson for the regional prosecutor’s office in Haskovo.