(December 10, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed Diaspora Affairs and Education Minister Naftali Bennett to formulate a plan to increase Jewish immigration from France.
At the weekly government meeting on Sunday, Bennett spoke of the challenges to Israel-Diaspora ties.
“There are 200,000 Jews in France who want to make aliyah to Israel, and all of the state systems are just unprepared for it. These people are Zionists, they are moral, they are lovers of the Jewish people, and it is our moral obligation to help them,” he said.
Bennett said he had launched an informal education program for immigrants from France two weeks ago with the tools at his disposal, but said this was not enough.
“This requires a comprehensive process led by the government,” he said.
In response, Netanyahu instructed Bennett to work with the National Economic Council at the Prime Minister’s Office to create a master plan for increasing aliyah among French Jews and to present that plan to the Ministerial Committee on Aliyah and Absorption, which Netanyahu heads, for discussion.
A Diaspora Ministry report on global anti-Semitism published in January pointed to Muslim immigrants to Europe as “a major risk factor to the Jewish communities of western Europe,” saying that over half of all immigrants in western Europe hold anti-Semitic views.
It also said the mass immigration had sparked violent, anti-Semitic discourse among native-born Europeans.
According to figures from the French police, one out of every three race-based crimes reported in 2016 was committed against Jews, even though Jews comprise less than 1 percent of France’s population.
Bennett also said that for the first time Israel, with 6 million Jews, is the country with the largest number of Jews. In comparison, 5.7 million Jews now live in the United States.
“Israel-Diaspora ties are in an unprecedented state of crisis,” said Bennett.
“We are used to being told that this is because of the Western Wall and other ideological divisions. That is not true. There is a serious problem of assimilation, and Diaspora Jews are increasingly indifferent to both Judaism and Israel. That is the whole story, and this is a national challenge.”
Bennett also spoke about the Diaspora Ministry’s activities to bolster Israel’s ties with Jewish communities around the world, among them efforts to expand the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, which brings young Jews from around the world to Israel. Some 50,000 Jews took part in Birthright trips in 2018.