Thanks to an unprecedented influx of immigrants from France, aliyah reached a 10-year high this year, with a total of 26,500 Jews from around the world making Israel their home in 2014.
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According to figures published Wednesday by the Jewish Agency and the Ministry for Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the number of Jews immigrating to Israel was up 32 percent this year, compared with 2013. For the first time since the state was founded, the number of immigrants from France exceeded that of any other country. For the second year running, immigration from France outpaced immigration from the United States, with this year’s total reaching nearly 7,000 – more than double that of last year.
The sharp increase in immigration from France in recent years has been attributed to a combination of growing anti-Semitism in the country and a bad economy.
Also contributing to this year’s upswing was a nearly threefold increase in immigration from Ukraine, where the tense situation with Russia has been prompting Jews to leave the country. The total number of Ukrainian Jews moving to Israel this year was 5,840.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said this year’s figures reflect a “historic shift.”
“For the first time in Israel's history, the number of immigrants who came to Israel from the free world is greater than that of immigrants fleeing countries in distress,” he said. “This trend is evidence of Israel's attractiveness as a place where it's good to live, as well as of the success of our joint efforts to promote aliyah and strengthen connections between Jews around the world and the State of Israel."
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver predicted that more than 10,000 Jews from France would immigrate to Israel in 2015 and that the total number of immigrants from around the world would surpass 30,000 next year.
Immigration from North America increased modestly this year, according to the figures, to total 3,870 – up 8 percent from last year.
Tel Aviv led the list of cities receiving new immigrants, followed by Netanya and Jerusalem. Some 3,000 new immigrants, mainly French, made their home in Israel’s commercial and cultural capital this year.