There’s been much in the news about emigration of French Jews to Israel. Not surprisingly, Israeli and/or Jewish publications have the best coverage. From Haaretz:
The rise – and rise – of French Jewry’s immigration to Israel While 2014 saw the all-time high of 7,086 immigrants to Israel – following occasional spikes in those figures in the past six decades, due to various factors – 2015 stands to be a banner year for the French Jewish exodus.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.
By Judy Maltz | Jan. 13, 2015 | 3:00 PM
… 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.
I wrote about the JPPI for VDARE in 2010 back when it was still the JPPPI or Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. Their publications are well worth reading for anybody interested in planning intelligently for their own people.
“About 80 percent of the French Jewish population comes from North Africa, so they’re relative newcomers 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.”The Six-Day War had all sorts of important psychological ramifications all over the world in terms of increasing Jewish self-confidence, which encouraged seemingly different developments. For example, the leaders of the May 1968 student uprising in Paris, such as Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Alain Krivine, were disproportionately Ashkenazi Jews. The rise of neoconservatism in the United States tended to be foremost among Jews excited by Jewish success in June 1967. That Dustin Hoffman, Elliot Gould, and Richard Benjamin were matinee idols of the silver screen seemed like a more plausible notion after June 1967 than before.
The next major peak in aliyah began in the early 2000s and coincided with the start of the second intifada in Israel. At that time Jews in France found themselves increasingly under attack by the local Muslim population. These attacks took the form of physical assaults and acts of vandalism, among other things. The most serious incident during this period was the 2006 kidnapping of a young, Moroccan-born Jew named Ilan Halimi, who was tortured to death.Why not also attribute it to the 2012 election of Socialist Hollande due to Muslim/African bloc vote?
“It just wasn’t comfortable for them to be in France anymore,” says Maimon, “and they started coming to Israel.”
Between 2,000 and 3,000 immigrants from France arrived in Israel each year from 2002 through 2007. This surge tapered off as well following the election of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who restored a sense of security among French Jews.
The past two years have seen a fresh spike in immigration, with the numbers reaching an all-time high of 7,086 in 2014. This most recent exodus has been attributed to a combination of a bad French economy and anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head once again.
Maimon estimates that French aliyah will set a new record this year, more than doubling to 15,000. “And that’s without the Israeli government doing anything to encourage people to come,” he says.My question, though, is: What is the “net” total of back and forth migration between France and Israel? Do rich Israelis buy homes on the Cote d’Azur?
In the next 15 years, he predicts that half of France’s 500,000-strong Jewish community will head to Israel or other destinations, most probably the United States.
Americans tend to have a picture in their heads of Jewish migration being like the last scene in Fiddler on the Roof: a wrenching, permanent dislocation with no going back.
But my observations over the last 35 years has been of a pretty free back and forth flow around the world: Tel Aviv? Miami Beach? Beverly Hills? They all have their attractions.
For example, I live in the southern San Fernando Valley, which long had a very large assimilated Jewish population (no ultra Orthodox). When I was 11 in 1970, the block I lived on had three Jewish families, three Protestant families (one of them Japanese-Americans), and one Catholic family.
There’s a widespread assumption of running out of Jews due to intermarriage, but it hasn’t really worked like that in the San Fernando Valley. Today, for example, there are large Hasidic families who were nowhere to be seen in 1970. Similarly, there are now lots of Persian Jews, Warsaw Pact bloc Jews, and Israeli Jews.
It was only when I got back from college in 1980 did I notice any Israelis in the SFV. The Israeli Influx I first noticed while playing 3 on 3 basketball at Valley College. There was a customary way regulating who would be the next team to challenge the team that had just won, but an Israeli threesome simply walked on the court. The team of laidback Valley Boys who were, by tradition, the next to play politely pointed out how the system worked, so one of the Hebrew-accented interlopers grabbed the Valley Boy by the shoulders and attempted to head-butt his face in. This was before Bob Hoskins movies had made much of an impact in America, so it was a striking sight.
Today, the Valley has a large Israeli population, including a sizable fraction of the tradesman population. For example, the amiable, competent locksmith who changed our locks last year was from Israel. The kitchen remodeling salesman who quoted us a staggering price noted that his father was a Persian Jew and his mother an Israeli. The retired housepainter who lives around the corner keeps his hometown Israeli TV station on all the time so he can stay constantly outraged at what the Palestinians are up to.
I haven’t sensed that these Israelis feel permanently removed from Israel. They vacation there ((just as local Persian Jews vacation in Iran), and might move back permanently. A lot probably depends upon the relative real estate markets. Tel Aviv real estate is currently extremely expensive even by Los Angeles standards, but if the relative prices changed, they might flip their L.A. house for one back home.
Or perhaps somewhere else. Next year in Havana?