Dozens of French Jews Moving to Rocket-battered Ashdod, Ashkelon

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A rocket fired from Gaza to Ashkelon on July 15, 2014.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Putting aside any misgivings they might have about how fast they can run when the siren sounds, 60 of the 400 French Jews moving to Israel on Wednesday will be heading straight for the prime rocket zone of Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Pushed, perhaps, by anti-Semitism at home – where pro-Palestinian protesters have been attacking Paris-area synagogues and shouting "Death to the Jews" – the immigrants were set to arrive in two planeloads.

"Despite the rocket onslaught against the people of Israel, not one immigrant from France has canceled his or her arrival," said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which, along with the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, has recently been working to encourage aliyah from France.

More than 900 rockets and mortar shells have hit Israel since July 8, many of them aimed at the Ashdod and Ashkelon areas.

"More and more people are asking whether Jews have a future in France," said Sharansky, alluding to recent anti-Semitic incidents in the Western European country that has both the largest Jewish population and the largest Muslim population. "But no one doubts that French Jews have a future in Israel."

More than 5,000 Jews are expected to make aliyah from France by the end of the way, more than half of whom have already arrived.

If the predicted number of French Jews do immigrate by December, they will set a record for aliyah from the West, said Sharansky. "Within a single year, and for the first time in history, a Jewish community in the West is sending a full percent of its Jews to build their lives in the States of Israel," he said.

More than 100 immigrants, most of whom come from the Paris area and are moving as part of a family, will be moving to the Tel Aviv area, with130 heading to Netanya and about 50 to Jerusalem.

The rate of French immigration has been on the upswing, with 60 percent more French Jews moving to Israel in 2013, when 3,289 people moved from France to Israel, than the year before.

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