NETANYA, Israel — This sunny city on the Mediterranean has become known among Israelis as the French Riviera, both as a compliment and a dig.To be honest, I'm feeling mad at the French authorities/government for letting these violent tragedies happen, because it's not like Jews should have to move here because of danger. But this is what happens when they betray their most productive citizens along with the others, and now, they've come here.
As immigration to Israel has dipped over the past 10 years, France is the only country seeing a growing number of its Jewish citizens move there. And Netanya is the French arrivals’ No. 1 destination.
The French in Netanya aren’t wearing berets and striped shirts, but the signs of their arrival are everywhere. The shop windows of real estate offices offer “superbe maison, vue sur mer, 3 salles de bain.” There are lawn bowling clubs, and the falafel joint’s menu lists “hamburger avec frites.” A French-style bakery called Pain au Chocolat is filled with mid-morning coffee dawdlers and children in strollers munching macaroons.
The reasons the French newcomers give for moving here: They love Israel, or at least the idea of Israel; the economy in France is weak, especially for young people; and perhaps most important, they say they feel a rise in anti-Semitism in France, from the subtle forms — promotions passed over, party invitations that never arrive — to the most overt.
“We come from Toulouse, so you can understand why we came here,” said Laurent Mardoukh, a middle-aged building contractor who arrived in Netanya with his wife and three boys last year.
Mardoukh’s eldest son was attending the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse on March 19, 2012, when a French national of Algerian heritage named Mohammed Merah shot to death a rabbi and three students.
“Now I prefer to live in peace and quiet in Israel, surrounded by all the craziness of the region, than in France, which is not as quiet as it seems,” Mardoukh said.
Immigration to Israel is called making “aliyah,” which in Hebrew means “the act of going up” or “ascending.” And it is slowing, despite intensive, expensive outreach — and outright wooing — by the government and private organizations. About 19,200 Jews immigrated to Israel last year, down a bit from the 22,139 who came a decade ago.
Against that backdrop, France is the exception. There were 3,270 French arrivals last year, an increase of 63 percent from 2012, according to Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. Percentage-wise, that is a far greater number than the 3,070 Jews who emigrated from the United States, which has many more Jews than France. The French consul here has said that as many as 150,000 French nationals may now be living in Israel.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
IMMIGRATION TO ISRAEL FROM FRANCE RISES
The Washington Post talks about the rising emigration of French Jews:
Posted by Avi Green at 3:29 PM