Aliyah from Europe unaffected by Israel’s security situation, study finds

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Jewish immigration to Israel from Western Europe is increasing amid a rise in anti-

Semitism but remains largely unaffected by the security situation in the Jewish state, according to a new study.

The London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research, or JPR, on Friday published its findings on Jewish immigration to Israel, or aliyah, in a report entitled “Are Jews Leaving Europe.” In it, researcher Daniel Staetsky analyzes the effect of various factors — including unemployment, political stability, anti-Semitism and security – on aliyah from Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom since the establishment of the State of Israel.

It determined that the first three countries studied are seeing an unprecedented increase in aliyah, whereas no such increase is being observed in the remaining three countries. The prevalence of anti-Semitic incidents, including violent attacks, has increased dramatically in all six countries since the early 2000s, according to the study.

Aliyah from France, a country with 500,000 Jews that throughout the early 2000s gave Israel approximately 2,000 newcomers annually, has increased dramatically during and after 2013, when more than 3,000 Jews came. The following year, over 5,000 came, followed by nearly 8,000 last year and another 5,000 last year. Aliyah from Britain, however, has remained steady at several hundred newcomers annually.

Both in Britain and in France, anti-Semitic incidents used to average several dozen annually but have proliferated to several hundred each year after 2000. Many of the attacks are committed by extremists of Muslim or Arab descent as payback for Israel’s actions in what researchers of this phenomenon have termed “new anti-Semitism.”

Staetsky wrote in his 30-page study that it neither confirms conclusively nor refutes politicians and journalists’ assumptions that anti-Semitism is behind the increase in aliyah from France, Belgium and Italy. He wrote that he did find a conclusive relationship between aliyah and unemployment in the country of origin, as well as its political stability.

“One immediately observes that times of high unemployment in the United Kingdom correspond to times of high migration of British Jews to Israel,” he noted.

“Perhaps surprisingly,” he added, his research did not reveal any “meaningful correlations between levels of migration to Israel and the security situation” there.

His team’s “initial hypothesis was that any deterioration of the security situation in Israel would deter potential migrants, whilst an improvement in the situation would make Israel more attractive.” But this was not supported in an analysis attempting to find a correlation between aliyah levels and the numbers of fatalities from terrorism and battle deaths in all military conflicts in which Israel was involved, he wrote.

Staetsky also wrote that current aliyah levels from Western Europe “cannot meaningfully be termed an ‘exodus,’” when compared in scope to previous waves of Jewish immigration Israel, including from Arab countries and the former Soviet Union.