French Jews want to move to Israel

The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration in Israel has registered a 430 percent increase in the number of applications from France since the October 7 Hamas terror attack. Background: increasing anti-Semitism.

Israel’s Aliyah Minister Ofir Sofer speaks at an Aliyah-event held Sunday, Dec. 17th, 2023, in Paris. Photo: Minister Ofir Sofer/Telegram

Over 1500 anti-Semitic incidents took place in France between October 7 and mid-November – three times the number reported in all of 2022 when 436 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the country.

A French-Jewish woman was stabbed in her home in the French city of Lyon in early November. A swastika was found scrawled on the door of her home, according to police and the city’s mayor.

Freddo Pachter who began working for the Aliyah and Integration Ministry in 2007 says that in his 17 years as coordinator of the immigration of French speakers to Israel, he has never seen such a high number of requests.

– Some tell me they’re afraid to be in France because they’re Jews, and they took down their mezuzahs, Pachter told The Times of Israel, referring to the parchment scrolls attached to the doorposts of many Jewish homes.
– It’s unbearable to live like that, to hide signs of Judaism when no one is ashamed to say they’re Christians or Muslims, he went on.

Historical anti-Semitism

In December, several events were organized in France to provide information and advice to those wishing to move to Israel. The gatherings in Paris, Marseille and Lyon each drew hundreds of participants.

It was anti-Semitism and similar things in France that prompted Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism —as a correspondent in Paris in the years 1891-1895 — to publish the book Der Judenstaat in 1896, in which he argued that Jews must establish their own homeland. The background to this was the trial of the French-Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus, the so-called Dreyfus Affair. A sham trial run by people with anti-Semitic views succeeded in putting Dreyfus in prison for crimes he had not committed.

Anti-Semitism in France was given a new boost in the 1940s during the German occupation and through the Vichy regime, which collaborated with Nazi occupiers to deport large numbers of both French Jews and foreign Jewish refugees to concentration camps.

After the electoral success of the far-right National Front in recent years, surveys show an increase in anti-Semitic beliefs among the French population.

First time since 1938

It is not only in France that anti-Semitic assaults have occurred since October 7. In Berlin, attackers threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue and a Jewish community center in the same month. In October-November, the Jewish section of Austria’s largest cemetery was set on fire, burning the cemetery’s ceremonial hall which has not happened since the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom committed by Nazi party members, locals told CNN.

By then, 165 confirmed anti-Semitic incidents in Austria had already occurred since the terrorist group Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,100 people and starting a war between Israel and Hamas.

About the same time a violent mob stormed an airfield and a hotel in Dagestan looking for Jewish passengers after a flight arrived from Israel to Dagestan, a Russian republic bordering Azerbaijan and Georgia. At Makhachkala airport, a mob chanted slogans (such as Allahu Akbar) and occupied the airport premises in search of Jews or Israelis. They went so far as to check passengers’ documents and lay siege to planes on the runways.