A record number of Jews made aliyah to Israel from Western Europe in 2015 due to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Most of the Jewish immigrants from Western Europe—about 8,000 among 9,880—have moved to Israel from France, where this week the head of the Jewish community in the city of Marseille urged local Jews to avoid wearing a kippah in public following an attack on a Jewish teacher by an Islamic State-inspired Muslim. The teacher was wearing a kippah when he was attacked.
France has the largest Jewish community in Europe—about 500,000 people. Due to increasing anti-Semitic attacks and harassment, most often by radical Muslims, Jewish institutions in France are heavily guarded. French officials say more than 50 percent of all reported racist attacks in the country in 2014 were directed against the Jewish community, the Associated Press reported.
Elsewhere in Western Europe, nearly 800 Jews have immigrated to Israel from the United Kingdom, with significant aliyah also coming from the Jewish communities of Italy and Belgium.
“That a record number of European Jews feel that Europe is no longer their home should alarm European leaders and serve as a wake-up call for all who are concerned about the future of Europe,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who added, “At the same time, the fact that Israel has become the number one destination for European Jews seeking to build a better future elsewhere is a tribute to the appeal of life in Israel and the values the Jewish state represents.”