Despite a combination of rising anti-Semitism and economic hardships, Jewish immigration from France in 2015 has so far not lived up to its high expectations.
According to figures from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, Haaretz reported, 1,1710 French Jews immigrated to Israel in the first five months of the year, a 19% drop from the same period last year.
In 2014, a record number of 7,086 French Jews arrived in Israel, with France the leading provider of new Israeli citizens for that year.
Early forecasts presented in the wake of a spate of terror attacks that struck Paris in January predicted that immigration from France would double to 15,000 this year, but the slow start makes that seem unlikely.
Despite the decline, Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Elkin was optimistic, assuring French community leaders in Israel that figures will jump considerably with the help of a major immigration wave expected this summer.
Elkin asserted his Ministry's figures do not take into account French Jews who arrived in Israel on tourist visas and then changed their status. “The drop is not as dramatic as it looks,” he told Haaretz.
But, while Jewish immigration from France was down in January-May, it was soaring from Russia and Ukraine, likely a result of rising instability in these two countries.
According to the Ministry's figures, 2,938 Ukrainian Jews have arrived in Israel between January-May, while another 2,435 came from Russia – representing an 82% and 51% jump, respectively.
Immigration from Italy also went up dramatically in the first few months of this year, albeit with smaller numbers, with 143 Italian Jews moving to Israel, 46% more than at this time last year.
In total, 10,023 Jews have immigrated to Israel in the first five months of 2015 – up 20% from January-May in 2014.