The coming year is expected to see another increase in the number of Jews immigrating to Israel, this after more than 30,000 Jews made Aliyah last year, a record for the past 15 years. In 2016, some 10,000 Jews are expected to emigrate from France alone; 3,000 Jews are expected to arrive from the United States; 7,000 from Russia and an additional 7,000 from Ukraine.
“We are monitoring the intensifying anti-Semitism in Europe, while at the same time the government ministries are preparing to absorb the olim,” the head of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, MK Avraham Naguisa, said Wednesday. “Their absorption is a national mission and a Zionist, social and economic window of opportunity for the Jewish nation, the State of Israel and Israeli society.”
Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kanner told the committee that the level of anti-Semitism in Russia is low and decreases continuously, but systematic anti-Semitism, or media-related anti-Semitism will increase immigration to Israel. According to Kanner, nationalistic parties have significant influence on the level of anti-Semitism in Russia. He recalled that some two years ago a yeshiva student in Moscow was beaten because he was Jewish, and noted that those who commit anti-Semitic acts in the various Russian provinces are punished.
Unlike in Europe, the relations between the Jewish and Muslim community in much of Russia are good, Kanner said, adding that Jewish-Muslim relations are not as good in Dagestan, Chechnya and the Caucasus regions.
Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt, who also serves as the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said, “Europe’s Jews are like a person walking on train tracks; from one side there is the train of radical Islam, and from the other there is the anti-religious reaction of old Europe. Today, after the Islamic attack in Paris, Europe understands that Islamic terror is its problem as well, not only Israel’s.”
Goldschmidt said the expected immigration to Israel will weaken the French Jewish community, which he said should be strengthened with educational and social activities.
Yogev Karasenty, director of combating anti-Semitism at the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, told the committee that last year had seen a record number of anti-Semitic attacks, carried out mainly by Muslims. Nearly all the attacks committed by Muslims were carried out by Muslims who were born and educated in Europe, and not by refugees, he said.
Karasenty criticized some European countries for their lack of deterrent punishment against anti-Semites, and mentioned that the denial of the Eastern European nations’ role in the Holocaust is becoming more widespread. Karasenty said 63 percent of French Jews have experienced anti-Semitism. According to him, the Israeli government allocates $50 million each year towards strengthening Jewish identity and education abroad, while the Jewish communities in the Diaspora spend a similar amount.
Former Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu) said the full potential of the immigration of Jews from France has yet to be realized. “We could have reached 15,000 [French] olim this year, not only 8,000,” she said. “The best response to the anti-Semitic attacks is improved absorption. There is no place for [a lagging] bureaucracy in this national mission.”