Anti-semitism and economic sclerosis are both not new stories in France. If you happen to be caught by both—say, as a young Jewish French entrepreneur—you might consider leaving for greener pastures. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, thousands of French Jews are doing just that, as the country faces a significant brain-drain to Israel:
Last year, 6,961 French Jews moved to Israel, more than double the number who relocated in 2013, according to Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. More than 36% of those emigrants hold college degrees, 17% in engineering alone.
And the French government is aware of the problem:
When French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron visited Technion, the Israel Institute for Technology, this week he asked a group of students originally from France if they would ever consider returning home.“For the holidays,” one student quipped. A computer-science major questioned whether France was doing enough to turn the page on a spate of recent anti-Semitic attacks.[…] As Mr. Macron visits the DLD tech conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday—wrapping a three-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories—a large part of his mission is aimed at luring Jewish investors and talent back to France.
Young Jewish entrepreneurs face forbidding obstacles in France: economic regulations that are hostile to start ups and flexible business models; anti-Semitism on the street and in the suites; a slow growth climate that is bad for all companies, new ones especially.And so many have moved to Israel—and the French government is now trying to woo them back. We give points to the French government for realizing the cost of the brain drain and trying to lure people back, but it won’t be easy; France is a hard country to leave and people don’t make that decision lightly. It would be much smarter for the government to work harder to correct the conditions that made emigration so attractive in the first place.Historically, the flight of Jews is a harbinger of economic and social blight. Countries where Jews are uncomfortable are places where a lot of other things are going seriously wrong.