JERUSALEM – Undeterred by the security situation in Israel, hundreds of French Jews have come home: 430 new immigrants from France arrived in Israel today (Wednesday, July 16) aboard two special flights organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption. Most of the new arrivals are families, including 195 children and teens and 18 babies. Dozens of the new Israelis will be moving to the southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, and the rest will live in communities throughout Israel. Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver and Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky were on hand to welcome the new immigrants home.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said: "France may not have won the World Cup, but you are champions when it comes to Aliyah – immigration to Israel. Your Aliyah is the best answer to our enemies' rockets. More than 1,000 new immigrants from around the world have arrived in Israel during Operation Protective Edge. Today, 430 of you came from France. Not a single one of these new immigrants canceled or postponed his or her arrival. Welcome to the family."
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: "You, dear friends, are the answer to the complicated security situation we are experiencing these days. Since the start of the operation, more than 1,000 new immigrants have come home, and that is proof of the fact that the State of Israel is the one and only home of the Jewish people. Every immigrant strengthens us as a people and a state. Aliyah is our national Iron Dome."
2014 has seen a dramatic increase in Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from France and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency expect more than 5,000 French Jews to immigrate to Israel by the end of the year. 3,289 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2013, compared to 1,917 in 2012 – a 60% increase. That trend is continuing in 2014, with approximately 2,600 French Jews arriving in Israel during the first six months of the year, compared to 812 during the equivalent period in 2013. This dramatic increase is due, in part, to a special plan developed by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency to encourage Aliyah from France and ease French Jews' integration into Israeli society. The plan includes efforts to strengthen Jewish identity amongst French Jewish youth, expand Israel experience programs, remove bureaucratic barriers to employment in Israel, and boost the number of Jewish Agency shlichim (representatives) in France.