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Exodus: Migration of Jews Out of France Begins

Will they head to Israel, or North America?

by
Michel Gurfinkiel

Bio

October 20, 2013 - 11:09 pm

Some fifty years ago, a mass migration transformed Judaism in France and in other countries of Western Europe. Algeria, a French colony in North Africa, was granted independence in 1962. Over one million French residents — European settlers and natives that had opted for French citizenship and culture — had no choice but to flee across the Mediterranean to the mother country, and ten percent of them were Jewish. Overnight, the Jewish community in Metropolitan France grew from 300,000 to over 400,000 souls.

Two more countries in North Africa had been French protectorates until the 1950s: Morocco to the west of Algeria; Tunisia to the east. Upon acceding to independence, the local governments in Rabat and Tunis guaranteed full equality to their Jewish minorities. But it soon became apparent that this was an empty promise, and that all non-Muslims, including Jews, had to go.

The exodus accelerated after the grisly circumstances of Algerian independence. Many Moroccan and Tunisian Jews fled to Israel. Some went to the French-speaking province of Quebec, in Canada. The rest — some 200,000 Jews — came to France. In addition, tens of thousands of Jewish refugees came from Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran. All in all, the French Jewish community reached a peak of 700,000 in the 1970s.

Quantity may translate into quality. The sudden growth of a Jewish population allowed for a remarkable Jewish cultural and religious revival in France that compared with the parallel blooming of Judaism in North America and Israel.

Now, a reversal is taking place. Today Jews are migrating out of France, and this is occurring in increasingly larger numbers.

This migration starts within France, as a mere change of locations. In Greater Paris, middle-class Jewish families are deserting neighborhoods that have been engulfed by more recent immigrants from Africa and the Near East. These new immigrant populations have proven prone to violence, and as radical Muslims, many entertain negative views about Jews and Judaism. Harassment, arson, and assault are frequent. There have been several murders. Even the liberal-minded Imam Hassan Chalghoumi of Drancy, who advocates friendly relations with Christians and Jews, was threatened and assaulted.

“I did not leave Morocco for France to be confronted by Morocco again in France,” a Casablanca-born Jewish physician confided to me. He is selling his apartment in an increasingly Muslim-populated area of southeastern Paris to move to the local “Promised Land,” the West End of Paris. This area consists of the 16th and 17th districts, as well as the adjacent boroughs of Levallois, Puteaux, Neuilly, and Boulogne. These places are more expensive. But they are still solidly white and Christian, and thus, under the present conditions, deemed to be safer.

However, everybody cannot afford to move West, especially Orthodox Jewish families with many children. And even those who settled for other safer areas are not sure about the future. They wonder whether classic anti-Semitism is not back with a vengeance all over Europe, after several decades of post-Holocaust toleration. The fact that campaigns to make kosher slaughter and even circumcision illegal are gaining ground in several countries, and were even endorsed at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, is seen as particularly ominous.

So French Jews are looking beyond the West End. Registration with the Jewish Agency for emigration to Israel is soaring. Students are enrolling in Israeli or American universities. Families are buying apartments in Israel, or houses in Florida. Young professionals are looking for opportunities in the Israeli Silicon Valley, in London, even in Shanghai.

For quite a long time, many Israelis were skeptical about a large-scale immigration wave away from France ever occurring. The consensus was that French Jews talk a lot about immigrating, they buy apartments for vacationing, but at the end of the day very few of them stay abroad. Now, Jewish migration out of France is a proven reality (in fact, this goes for migration in general: many non-Jewish French are considering emigrating as well). From an Israeli perspective, the questions now are whether emigrants will go to Israel or to another place, and what the numbers really are.

Since no census based on religion or ethnicity is allowed under French law, demographers must rely on indirect sources and estimates in order to assess the size and distribution of the Jewish population. Results can be quite diverse. Since 1994, according to most polls and investigations, 1% of the French describe themselves as Jewish. Since the global French population (overseas territories included) grew during the same period from 57.6 million to 65.5 million in 2013, the Jewish population may actually have grown by ten percent, from 576,000 to 655,000.

However, many sources point instead to diminishing numbers. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Jewish population has declined to 480,000.

According to the report on religious attitude and affiliation in France released in 1994 by CSA, a polling institute, 1% of the French identified “entirely” with Judaism, an additional 1% identified “strongly,” and an additional 2% identified “somewhat.” These results would have enlarged the sway of Judaism to 4%, over 2 million. (Some 92% of the French said they did not identify “at all” with Judaism.)

CSA has conducted many other polls on religious issues since then, but has never entirely replicated its 1994 methodology. Still, according to its 2003 survey, 2% of French adults aged 18-24 years identified as Jewish, a figure that would tend to confirm that “the audience” of Judaism was then larger than what it is routinely assumed to be. As for the 2013 CSA survey, it provides figures with similar implications: 2% of the French say they are “strongly interested” in Judaism, and an additional 16% say they are “somewhat” interested; whereas 82% are “not interested.”

The pattern set by the recently released Pew Forum report on American Jews may perhaps help researchers assess the real demographics of the French Jews. What the Pew Forum report essentially shows is that many Americans retain a link with Judaism and with Israel even if they are estranged from Jewish congregations and Jewish religion, or are only partially of Jewish descent. The same may be true about French Jews.

From 1994 to 2013, a solid 2% of the French population has expressed a steady commitment to Jewish matters, a number twice as large as the nominal Jewish population. It is likely that the broader 2% — that may amount nowadays to about 1.2 million people — have helped the core 1% to stay or even grow, in spite of death, acculturation, and emigration to Israel and other places. Moreover, the Jewish population writ large seems to be surrounded by ever-growing circles of more or less remote sympathizers, especially among observant Christians.

If indeed the broader Jewish population or “audience” of France, or just a significant fraction of it, is so concerned about its future as to consider leaving the country, Israel may realistically envision a major immigration wave in the coming decade, and should be well-advised to take the necessary steps without delay.

Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-thank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.

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Top Rated Comments   
Your comments only confirm my suspicions. I'd considered Canada as a potential refuge when things fall apart here and, as a graduate of McGill U in Montreal, figured that would give me an edge. But I'd read of such government policies against that which didn't follow the Francophone line (to the point of seizing matzot being brought into Canada because it lacked French labeling).

But even were I to seek a more Anglo-friendly province, I'd have to deal with the fact that, unlike in the 1970s, Muslims now outnumber Jews in Canada by some 3 to 1. Just one of the unintended consequences of a foolish immigration policy.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Europe is committing suicide again. The educated and enlightened will once again be forced to flee and what will be left are the barbarian hoardes taking her down into the abyss. The anti-Jewish hatred of of the past 1500 years will never dissipate. Bonne Chance France, you shall reap what you sow.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Quebec, unfortunately, offers them no hope. I lived there for thirteen years and it is by far the most anti-Jewish place in all the Americas. Restaurants feel comfortable printing anti-Jewish 'jokes' on their paper placemats (e.g. "What's the difference between a Jew and a pizza? The pizza doesn't scream when you shove it in the oven." There are *worse* examples I could have used).

Back in Passover 2005 armed police removed nearly all foods from store shelves in Orthodox (Hassid, really) areas of Montreal because the labels did not feature prominent French. Many Hassidim fasted for the final four days of Passover, but not because it was their choice.

I can just about guarantee the Obama administration will make it nearly impossible for French Jews to come to America, as (like most people who have experienced repression by they self-appointed "betters") they tend to be conservative. As it is, there's about a two-year backlog of entrepreneurial French attempting immigration here. Bonne chance, mes amis ... Obamoids detest conservative entrepreneurs even more than they detest conservative Jews.

"The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time" Sir Edward Grey, 03 August 1914. We are returning to that time (my in-laws are from Europe), and absent significant political changes in the next two American elections we are headed to that same unfortunate place.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (42)
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As long as the French Jewish people also don't take Marxism with them when emigrating from France (or Rousseauism or any of those ideologies), I won't mind if they come here to the United States. Marxism and its descendants/ancestors have harmed several people, we must never allow it to propagate. If any Jewish people who hold leftist Marxist views rather than biblical views, we will force those particular Jewish people to stay in France and reap what they sowed, as Jesus Christ himself once said. We made a big mistake allowing the Frankfurt School and other similar groups emigrate from Germany during its stint with Nazism, and I am certainly not willing to make that mistake again. The same goes for Israel regarding Jewish people leaving France/Europe en-masse as well. The only Jewish people I'm willing to allow are the religious ones, not those who are Jewish solely by ethnic ties. If they preach Marxism, then they are debarred from entry.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
my best friend's step-aunt makes $68/hr on the internet. She has been fired for 8 months but last month her pay was $16664 just working on the internet for a few hours. read this post here....www.Bay95.com
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is well past time that the US and Canada stop coddling France and accept French Jews as victims of religious persecution. After the French stabbed the US in the back over Iraq, it is time that their phony "egalite" be rubbed in their faces.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, though I really wish Gurfinkel picked a different name for his Conservative Institute, as Rousseau is THE reason why France is in the mess it is now. He preached Socialist theory before Marx existed to invent it. Rousseau is no conservative. He's actually a leftist. The founder of modern leftism is one of his names. It was because of Rousseau and his "Egalite" crap that the French Massacre... sorry, "French Revolution" occurred, and all the death, destruction, and chaos caused by it.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Vichy France, what goes around comes around, the left's true colors are showing through once again. Return of the 30's? It should be real interesting to see how France in particular deals with the increased anti antisemitism in Europe. Just as interesting will be how Obama deals with it as well as Israel.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The false god, and followers of this world system hate Jews because G-d sent morality into the world through the agreement made between Abraham, and G-d.

Notice how all things G-d ordained are under attack in the New Age. Just as it was in the time of Noah. After 1950 years Israel is reborn. Not just for the Jews, but to show G-d keeps his word. Soon, the last of G-d's words will come true.

This world system is reprobate, and lawless. Just like they like it.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Montreal................where else???
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mexico has between 500,000 and 750,000 Jews, mostly in the western neighborhoods of Mexico City. They keep as low a profile as possible because like all Mexicans they fear getting kidnapped and held for ransom.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Both Western (Ashkenazi) and Eastern (Sephardi) Jews, in fact.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
“I did not leave Morocco for France to be confronted by Morocco again in France,”

turning HERE into THERE is almost complete- Jihadi Show now playing in all theaters , a WORLWIDE release
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many have also gone to Montreal.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Israel may realistically envision a major immigration wave in the coming decade, and should be well-advised to take the necessary steps without delay."

Pfft. To whom do you think you're giving advice, buddy?

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 (and the corresponding collapse of the system that prevented Russian Jews from emigrating), Israel absorbed an estimated one million Russian Jews in something like two years. (At the time, the population of Israel was about 5.5 million. Going by corresponding percentages, this would be like the United States today absorbing over 50 million immigrants in the same two years.)

Israel has, in short, struggled with large waves of immigrants many times before. Israel can handle taking in large numbers of French Jews. How well will France do without them? (Robert Heinlein once wrote, from a deliberately oversimplified perspective, of Germany having lost WWII because they "chased out a half-dozen geniuses". More to the point, European countries have expelled their Jewish populations, seen their economies decline, and then reluctantly readmitted them, many times over the centuries. If the French have learned that lesson, they do not seem to be applying it today.)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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