Many French Jews Eyeing U.S., Not Israel, as Emigration Destination, Attorney Says

Legal specialist says he asks clients, `Why are you here?' The answer: They don't feel safe anymore.

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A pro-Palestinian protester displays a burning Israeli flag during a banned demonstration in support of Gaza at Place de la Republique in Paris, France, July 26, 2014.Credit: AP

Even as French Jews now make up the largest source of immigrants to Israel, a move driven partly by anti-Semitism, one Manhattan attorney says he's getting an increasing number of inquiries from wealthier members of that community about moving to the U.S.

Usually, Marlen Kruzhkov, an attorney at Gusrae Kaplan, gets two to three such calls a year. But "I’ve gotten calls from two to three dozen people in the last three months,” he told Algemeiner. Israel's seven-week conflict with Hamas in Gaza ended August 26 in a cease-fire.

“The first thing we ask a client is, ‘why are you here?' ‘why now?’ ‘why all of a sudden?’ ‘what is your goal?’” he told Algemeiner. “And almost all of them answer" that they don’t feel safe anymore.

The anti-Semitic incidents in France have been widely reported: the two girls arrested for plotting a suicide attack at a Lyon synagogue; the riots in and around Paris; the firebombing of a synagogue in a Paris suburb, among others.

"France is a weird country because it has a large Jewish and large Muslim population, so there is a real tension, a real undercurrent of hostility and a threat," the lawyer told The New York Observer. "Now, it has become a lot easier for people to become a lot more open about their anti-Semitism and hate."

Kruzhkov's clients – currently several dozen families – tend to have assets of $50 million to $70 million, the Observer reported.

For most of them, the choice is the U.S. or Israel, with business opportunities often the determining factor, he told the Observer.

“Israel is a small place, business opportunities are less, there is much more red tape," he told the Observer. "The U.S. is easier; it’s a great place to do business, less red tape.”

Kruzhkov says that while his clients invariably move their assets out of France, half of them don't emigrate. In some cases the assets go to the U.S. and the family goes to Israel.