Jewish Exodus from Western Europe Sets New Record
Jewish immigration to Israel from Western Europe has reached an all-time high in an exodus mainly caused by a spike in anti-Semitic attacks from Islamic radicals.
Just last week, a machete-wielding teen attacked a Jewish teacher in the southern French town of Marseille, prompting a local Jewish authority to ask fellow Jews to refrain from wearing their traditional skullcaps to stay safe.
The Jewish Agency, a leading nonprofit group, reports that 9,880 Jews from Western Europe moved to Israel last year. That number is more than 10 percent higher than 2014 and double the figure from 2013.
Jews have increasingly reported assaults and intimidation, mostly from Muslim extremists. And while the attacks have taken place in Belgium, Denmark and other European countries, France has seen the worst of it.
That's why the vast majority of immigrants, close to 8,000, came from France. The shocking rise in anti-Semitic violence there has shattered the sense of security of the world's third-largest Jewish population.
France is still reeling from a series of attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people, and it just marked the anniversary of attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store, which killed 17 people. In each case, the Islamic State claimed responsibility.
France's Jewish community of some 500,000 is the largest in Europe. Jewish schools and synagogues are often surrounded by soldiers in combat fatigues, armed with automatic rifles, who patrol the streets.
And though Jews make up less than 1 percent of the population there, French officials say more than 50 percent of all reported racist attacks in 2014 were directed against them.
Experts say European Jews have not felt this threatened since World War II, when 6 million Jews were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust.