The Jewish Agency for Israel said in a new report that immigration to Israel (Aliyah) from Western Europe in the first quarter of 2015 was unchanged from the same period last year.
However, the statistics revealed that a large increase in the number of immigrants (olim) arriving from Eastern Europe, where an unstable economic and security situation prompted more emigration. Ukrainian Aliyah alone rose by a whopping 215 percent compared to the same period last year.
Prof. Robert Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, has sought to refute claims which seek to downplay the link between increasing anti-Semitism in Europe and emigration to Israel.
“It is indisputable that the dominant factor behind Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe is anti-Semitism,” Wistrich told the Tazpit News Agency Monday.
“Any comparisons to the situation in Ukraine, where Aliyah is also caused by anti-Semitism, although to a smaller extent, is a false comparison,” he added.
One reaction to the Jewish Agency’s report, in some Israeli and international newspapers, declared that anti-Semitism is simply one of many factors behind Aliyah from Western Europe. Economic considerations were touted as a more influential factor.
Wistrich, however, thoroughly disagreed with that analysis. He claimed that such statements were “jumping to conclusions,” and ignored long–standing work.