Jewish immigration to Israel from Europe has reportedly risen to a record high. The spike in immigration follows an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks and activity in Western Europe.
On Jan. 14, The Jewish Agency announced that an all-time high of 9,880 European Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015.
This trend is in line with an overall growth in immigration to the Middle East state. According to joint figures from The Jewish Agency and Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, 30,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel in 2015, reports The Times of Israel.
The Israeli government is responding positively to the growth in immigration and aims to ultimately take in 50,000 immigrants per year.
“We are in a rare window of opportunity," Israeli Minister Ze'ev Elkin said of Israel's immigration rise, according to The Times of Israel. "While we are busy with the day-to-day operations of Israel, we did not pay attention to this year’s great development: the number of immigrants exceeded 30,000 for the first time in nearly a decade.”
The new wave of immigrants is comprised of a significant number of young people, as 50 percent of Israel’s immigrants are under 30.
The vast majority of the immigrants have come from France, with nearly 8,000 Jews emigrating from the European nation. France has the world’s third largest Jewish population, reports Fox News.
A rise in anti-Jewish sentiment and attacks in Europe has precipitated the rise in immigration.
During the week of Jan. 11, a French student reportedly attacked a Jewish teacher with a machete, leading French police to advise Jews to refrain from wearing traditional clothing.
“That a record number of European Jews feel that Europe is no longer their home should alarm European leaders and serve as a wake-up call for all who are concerned about the future of Europe," Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said, according to Fox News.
The security risks faced by French Jews may be pushing them to immigrate to Israel in higher numbers. Jews constitute less than 1 percent of France’s population, but over half of all the nation’s racist attacks target Jews.
Photo Credit: Jewish Agency for Israel/Zed Films via The Times of Israel