New body will ease Euro aliyah

By Nathan Jeffay, June 13, 2014
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Spurred by a belief that antisemitism is rising in Europe, the Israeli government is creating a new organisation to encourage European Jews to make aliyah.

The organisation will recruit potential émigrés, give them extra assistance upon arrival in Israel, and if they come from particularly high-risk areas such as parts of Ukraine, it will give them cash grants to make the move possible.

The organisation, which the government has set up in partnership with the Jewish Agency, will work alongside existing bodies that promote aliyah. Its budget will be £17 million for the next 18 months.

It will operate as an independent body, not a government department, and will have a remit across Europe, though its main focus will be Ukraine. It is also expected to focus on the Belgian community, which is in shock following the Brussels shooting last month, and on France, where emigration to Israel increased by 63 per cent last year.

Impact on aliyah promotion in the UK is likely to be minimal.

Israel's Minister for Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver said that the project "will enable us to increase the number of immigrants coming to Israel and will illustrate Israel's role and the importance it places on ingathering the exiles".

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, said that European Jews felt increasingly threatened.

"I was in Belgium after what happened there and before that I was in Toulouse, and there is a feeling that Europe is not a secure home," he said.

"I feel very strongly that in the last 10 years there is growing insecurity among the Jews of Europe."

He added that the organisation would not try to push European Jews towards making aliyah. "Rather we are giving them the opportunity to think of Israel as home," he said.

    Last updated: 7:45am, June 13 2014