Can Muslims bring aliyah to Israel

Immigration of Jews to Israel - Migration or Flight?

Significantly more Jews immigrate to Israel from France than from German-speaking countries. There are historical reasons for this.

Photo: Jewish Agency, Facebook

"Jews flee from anti-Semitism in Europe". In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England and France, the topic of media and political parties is a concern. Usually you don't even want to know the cause. The problem is not the hatred of Jews, but the term "anti-Semite".

One type of hatred of Jews disguises itself as "legitimate criticism of Israeli politics". A Molotov cocktail in a synagogue, an assassination attempt on a rabbi, the beating of Jewish students - everything is considered a criticism of Israel. Many media and political parties in Europe agree: the only fault is the Middle East conflict. The trauma of the Holocaust did not lead to a situation in which Europeans suffer Jews better, but only to the fact that one does not want to be called "anti-Semite". Undifferentiated criticism of Israel is legitimized. And in the smooth form: "Criticism of Israel's government". You hate Israel for being strong, you hate it for being a reminder of your sins. Most of all, you hate it for being Jewish. And the European Jews are hated on the grounds that as Jews they might be pro-Israel. Many Jews in France, Germany or England initially have no connection with the Jewish state. Can one speak of mass emigration?

Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks once summed up this phenomenon in the British House of Commons: “We don't hate Jews, they said in the Middle Ages, only their religion. We don't hate Jews, they said in the nineteenth century, only their race. We don't hate Jews, they say now, only their nation-state. Anti-Semitism is the hardest hatred to defeat because it mutates like a virus, but one thing remains the same: Jews, whether religion or race or Israel, are made the scapegoat for problems for which all sides are responsible. This is how the path to tragedy begins. "

Hatred of Jews is extremely vital and every mutation of the virus corresponds to a reaction: Jews converted to Christianity or Islam, Jews hide their Judaism and hope that they will not be recognized, Jews themselves become critics of Israel and thus hope to be on the right side of history , and they are very welcome by those who reject the Jewish state and do not want to be considered anti-Semites. And as a last resort for those who want to live unmolested as Jews, there is Israel.

How Jewish can Jews be in Germany?

The number of Jews in Germany grew from around 20,000 to almost 100,000 thanks to immigration from the Soviet Union. These are the so-called "contingent Jews" to whom Germany had opened the gates. Because it is strictly forbidden for German authorities to ask about “ethnicity”, most statistics are unreliable and in any case incomplete. Only those Jews can be counted who have registered with a synagogue community. Many Jews from the Soviet Union were discriminated against because their ID card said “Jevräi” (Hebrew), but they were irreligious and therefore also unregistered members of a synagogue. In Germany they were then only "former Russians". Just as many people quit the church to save church taxes, there are many Jews who do not feel compelled to be members of a synagogue congregation. These are then no longer recorded by the statistics. The number of people not registered, those not officially registered, is likely to be significantly higher than the number of parishioners.

Also not included are the thousands of young Israelis who are mainly drawn to Berlin and among whom there are noticeably many “Israel critics”. Jews “critical of Israel” are perhaps the most tragic figures among the victims of anti-Semitism: in order to be recognized, they help to damage the only state that could protect them from hatred. But whether they really escape anti-Semitism in this way is questionable. As long as they can prove that they have a Jewish mother, they can return to Israel at any time. And also if they had been persecuted according to the racial laws during National Socialism.

Escape from Germany: finally living as a Jew!

The only reliable source for German Jews who emigrated to Israel is the Israel Statistics Office. There, according to the countries of origin, it is listed how many people have applied for and received Israeli citizenship. It is then clear that they “immigrated”. In the case of Germany, the numbers are minimal. After Israel was founded in 1948 and until 1951, 8,210 German Jews were naturalized in Israel. But in the decades that followed, the numbers fell sharply. Only about 100 Jews came to Israel from Germany each year. In the years from 2016 to 2017, the number of Jewish emigrants from Germany rose from 114 to 155.

Anyone who hides their Jewishness in Germany has no problems. The decision of Jewish Germans in favor of Israel is usually a conscious decision in favor of Judaism: Young married couples expressed the wish to give their children the most "natural environment" and "education" possible. High school students want to wear their kippah. A typical example is the impression a visitor made in Jerusalem: For her it was a “breathtaking” sight to see lots of small children, recognizable as Jewish, play carefree and carefree on the streets, while in her home town in Germany the children of the Jewish school behind high Learning walls, with a patrol car in front of the entrance gate. When they make their way home, they hide their kippahs and other identifying marks so as not to be attacked by right-wing extremists or Muslims.

The figures from Austria are even clearer. In 1948, 2,632 Jews from Austria came to Israel. The number of emigrants fell to only 17 and 26 in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Relatively constant figures are given for Switzerland. From 1948 to 1951 there were 131. In the decades that followed, there were fewer than 100 per year. That number fell further to 64 in 2016 and 84 in 2017.

The number of American immigrants has increased

Surprisingly high numbers are reported for Great Britain. Between 394 and 556 Brits settled in Israel in 2016 and 2017. In the previous decades it was around 700 per year.

In the USA section, there has been a steady increase in immigration to Israel. In 1948, 1,711 US citizens were issued a passport in Israel. In 2016 and 2017, the number was 2,323 and 2,248, respectively. Despite raids on synagogues, which resulted in many deaths, and repeated attacks on recognizable Jews, for example in Brooklyn, the Israeli figures do not reveal any mass exodus. And if you take into account that there are around 6 million Jews living in the USA, about as many as in Israel, then the proportion of emigrants appears extremely low.

France is different

With the founding of the state of Israel, an unprecedented wave of persecution began: Almost all Jews from North Africa and the Arab states were expropriated and expelled. Many of the around 600,000 French Jews today moved to France and settled in poor areas around Paris or Marseille. They live as arms under arms in the midst of French Muslims, who also originally came from Algeria, Egypt and Senegal and already brought with them hatred of Jews. In this environment it is difficult to hide your origins. This resulted in brutal assaults and murders. These events led to a wave of refugees in France, as can be read from the Israeli statistics. In 2017 alone, 3,157 French people registered with the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to apply for an Israeli passport. In 2017 there were 2,441 and in the previous year 3,267. In the 15 years from 2000 there were over 28,000.

The comparison with the German-speaking countries in particular shows that the dimensions in France are completely different.

Mass immigration to Israel

In the official statistics from 1948 to 2017, the reasons for immigration to Israel are not given, but the figures allow conclusions, the background of which is well known from other sources. In the founding years of Israel from 1948 to 1951, most of the Jews immigrated to Israel, a total of 687,624. Most of these were Holocaust survivors from all over Europe. 237,704 Olim came from Asian countries, including 21,910 from Iran, 34,547 from Turkey, 123,371 from Yemen. This is the mass expulsion of almost all Jews from Muslim countries.

The Middle East wars of 1967, 1973 and the war in Lebanon in 1986 led to further mass exodus. Because only a few Jews remained in the Arab-Muslim countries, the number of immigrants to Israel was also reduced here. In 2016 there was only one Jew from Afghanistan. Immigration from Syria was 1,646 people in the decade starting in 1990, while only 2 Syrians were registered as immigrants in 2017. A total of 48,315 people came from Yemen by 1951, compared to only 9 in 2017. From 1990, when the Soviet empire collapsed, over 77,000 Jews came from the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union (Uzbekistan, Georgia), compared to just under 400 in 2017.

Similar curves can also be observed in Europe. The highest number was in 1948 with 332,802 immigrants, apparently Holocaust survivors. An even larger number, 811,059, was recorded from 1990 for the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Jews left Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary and Yugoslavia by the thousands after 1948. In 2017 only a few dozen came from these countries, around 14 from Bulgaria or 52 from Hungary. In 1948, 117,950 people from Romania came to Israel. In 2017 there were only 9. Immigration to Israel has therefore decreased significantly.

By: Ulrich W. Sahm and Elisabeth Lahusen