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Report: Russian immigrants dominate aliyah, Western arrivals expected to surge amid rising post-Oct. 7 antisemitism

New immigrants from North America arrive on a special " Aliyah Flight" on behalf of Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, at Ben Gurion airport in central Israel on August 14, 2019. (Photo: Flash90)

Between Jan. 1 and May 15 this year, Israel welcomed 11,631 new immigrants, with approximately 8,000 – nearly 70% – originating from Russia, according to an interim report by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.

This new data was presented during Monday's meeting of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.  

Immigration from North America and Western Europe is expected to number 15,500 people, more than 2.5 times the number that arrived in 2023, attributed mostly to the steep rise in antisemitism since the Hamas Oct. 7 massacre. So far this year, a mere 700 new immigrants arrived in Israel from Western Europe with the majority coming from France, followed by the United Kingdom. Even fewer (564) Jews made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from America during that time.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the government organization that handles immigration to Israel, expects another 8,000 new immigrants to arrive in Israel from the West by this September, according to Israeli officials.

“We are seeing unprecedented waves of antisemitism all over the world, including [cases of] physical endangerment for Diaspora Jews, Israelis living abroad, and we’ve all seen what’s happening on university campuses,” said Oded Forer, chairman of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.

Antisemitism has soared across Western Europe and North America since Oct. 7, when thousands of Palestinian terrorists invaded southern Israel, murdered more than 1,200 and kidnapped 250 hostages, including some corpses, into Gaza.

A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League and Tel Aviv University revealed a dramatic increase in antisemitism in Western countries, such as the U.S., France, the UK, Canada and Germany. In the U.S. alone, antisemitism doubled in 2023 with more than half of antisemitic incidents registered after Oct. 7.

“This is jolting Jewish communities and making many realize that with all the hardships," Forer said, saying that Israel "is the only place where we can, must and will make sure we can live safely as Jews and Israelis.”

“If we act correctly, this crisis can become an opportunity,” the Knesset chairman added.

JAFI's Director of the Aliyah and Absorption Shay Felber stated that the expected number of 15,500 new Western immigrants “is based on the number of people who opened immigration files and have already submitted a future arrival date.”

He said that the real number of olim (immigrants) will be higher and that at least 30,000 new immigrants worldwide are expected to make their home in Israel in 2024.

According to Felber, French Jews are eager to come to Israel, despite the ongoing war and more than 3,200 French Jews are expected to move to Israel this year, which is triple the number in 2023.

In a statement on Monday, Ariel Kandel, the head of Qualita, an organization that promotes aliyah from France, stated: “The war in Israel, along with the atmosphere of antisemitism and the thousands of incidents targeting French Jews, is prompting an unprecedented desire among French Jews to make aliyah and help the war effort.”

“This is an opportunity and we must lose no time: The State of Israel needs to initiate plans to bring olim and help them integrate,” Kanel argued.

According to Dan Illouz, a Knesset member for the Likud party, Israeli society has yet to fully understand the impact the war has had on diaspora Jews.  

“We as a society have not properly understood the waves that the war created within Diaspora Jewry,” Illouz said.

“There is potential for a huge wave of aliyah from the Diaspora to Israel, and it doesn’t find expression in the numbers of immigrants coming to Israel. There is no governmental statement here that understands the magnitude of the hour.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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