Israeli leaders speaking to European Jews welcomed the community to immigrate to Israel as sentiments of increased instances of anti-Semitism occur across Western Europe.
Over the past several years, attacks targeting European Jews, including the killing of four French Jews at a kosher market last week and a shooting at the Belgian Jewish Museum last May, have raised concerns about a lack of security in and around Jewish businesses, places of worship and study.
While Israeli leaders call for Jews to immigrate to Israel, Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said he wants European Jews to hold onto their cultural roots in Europe. He also called for increased security at Jewish sites and more action to combat anti-Semitism across the continent.
As local leaders call for European Jews to stay in their native countries, thousands immigrated to Israel this past year. In 2014, around 7,000 French Jews moved to Israel – double the number in 2013 – as anti-Semitic acts flared around the country.
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According to the Jewish Agency, an advocacy group that connects international Jewish communities, around 8,600 Jews, leaving countries like Italy, Belgium and Britain, immigrated to Israel in 2014. Around 2 million Jews live in Europe.
After the attacks in Paris last week, security officials in Italy, Britain, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria confirmed increased surveillance and security, including increased police presence, at known Jewish sites.
Some European Jews plan to immigrate despite increased security.
Johan Dume, one of the hostages who hid inside a freezer for five hours at the kosher market, said he plans to move his family to Israel.
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“We are not going to wait around here to die,” he said.