Aliyah interest rises as British recession bites

By Ben Jaglom, March 26, 2009

A combination of the credit crunch and rising antisemitism is encouraging more British Jews to consider buying homes in Israel, according to exhibitors and visitors at an Israel property fair in London.

Among the 200 browsers at the Marriott Hotel Swiss Cottage was retired engineer David Marks, 65, who observed: “This country has declined significantly over the last few years. Though I own my own house, I will be unable to afford to pay the council tax on my property once my wife stops working.

“With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain, this country is less of a friendly place for Jews than it once was.”

Exhibitor Julian Shapiro of Remax Netanya maintained that Israel was an increasingly attractive option for property investment. “In the past people might have moved to Israel because they wanted a holiday home. Now more and more people want to move to Israel to avoid the racism and violence in Europe.”

Another property company boss, Joe Cohen of Anglo Saxon, explained that hitherto, “many young guys would avoid making aliyah because by staying in England they could make huge salaries working in the City.

“Following the credit crunch many no longer feel they have any reason to stay in the UK and so look at emigrating to Israel ”

His view was borne out by David, who declined to give his surname, who was contemplating a new life in Israel after losing his job in banking. “Although I’m not particularly religious, I am also worried about how safe it is being a Jew in England,” he added.

Gideon Bar-Zakay, senior deputy director of the Israel tax authority, stressed the efforts being made to make moving to Israel financially attractive. “Although we don’t want people to come just for the tax benefits, we want to make sure that those considering aliyah can follow their hearts.”

The Jewish Agency and the Zionist Federation were among the event organisers.

Last updated: 2:41pm, March 26 2009