Jews are leaving France and heading for Israel in record numbers this year. Reports the AFP (by way of Yahoo):
The Jewish Agency for Israel, a global body responsible for the immigration and absorption of Jews into Israel, said 1,407 people left France for Israel between January and March [of this year] against 353 people a year earlier.
“We will not finish the year with four times more the number than in 2013 but if the current rhythm continues, there will be more than 5,000 French people leaving for Israel, something that has never happened since its creation in 1948,” [Ariel Kandel, the head of the Jewish Agency’s French chapter,] said.
Kandel told AFP that the reasons for the hike in numbers were a “climate of anti-Semitism” and the prevailing gloomy economic situation in France.
The news comes just as the Anti-Defamation League (a group dedicated to combating anti-semitism and other forms of prejudice) releases a survey of global attitudes toward Jews. According to the League, this was the largest survey ever conducted on anti-Semitism, comprised of “53,100 interviews in 96 languages.” It found anti-Semitism to be a persistent, world-wide phenomenon, says the WSJ:
[…] 26% of respondents [in 101 countries and the Palestinian territories] agreed with at least six of 11 negative statements—what its sponsor called stereotypes—about Jews. The questions included “Jews are more loyal to Israel than [their home] country,” and “Jews have too much power in the business world.” […]
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa, which generally have a contentious relationship with Israel, have by far the highest proportion of people responding with anti-Semitic views, with an average of 74%, the survey found.
Outside that region, Greece had the highest percentage, with 69% of the people surveyed affirming six or more of the anti-Semitic statements. Anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice tend to rise during times of economic hardship, and Greece has been struggling with a downturn. The extremist party Golden Dawn, which has blamed Jews and other minorities for the country’s woes, has made significant inroads there.
The U.S had one of the lowest levels of anti-Semitism of the countries surveyed, with only 9 percent of people affirming more than half the statements. Troublingly, 66 percent of all respondents had either never heard of the Holocaust or didn’t believe the historical record.
The findings don’t tell us whether anti-Semitic attitudes are on the rise, only that they are global and persistent. But if the growing number of French immigrants arriving in Israel is any indication, Jew-hatred is hardly in decline.