By: David Parsons, ICEJ VP & Senior Int. Spokesman

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem helped to sponsor a special charter flight of 160 French Jewish immigrants who landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday hoping to start a new life away from the rising antisemitism in France and elsewhere.

The chartered flight was arranged by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, and was funded by leading Jewish and Christian donor organizations, including the ICEJ, which sponsored seats for 32 of the new arrivals.

ICEJ representatives were on the tarmac to welcome the French olim, along with Israel’s minister of aliyah Pnina Tamano-Shata, MK Yair Golan, Keren HaYesod world chairman Sam Grundwerg, and JAFI’s interm chairman Yaakov Goel, among other dignitaries.

Tamano-Shata, who made aliyah herself from Ethiopia at age three, also accompanied the new immigrants on the flight from Paris after spending several days in the French capital with government officials and Jewish community leaders to assess the current situation for French Jewry.

France is still home to the second largest Jewish community outside of Israel (after the United States), with an estimated 500,000 members. However, another 250,000 have already left the country over the past two decades due to the rising threat of violent antisemitism, especially from radicalized Muslims transplanted from North Africa to crowded neighborhoods in Paris, Marseilles and other large French cities. Some Jewish émigrés have opted to join the growing enclaves of French Jews in Canada, Australia or the US, but a rising number have chosen Israel as a safer location for them, including from the coronavirus threat.

Aliyah from France to Israel has remained fairly strong and stable over recent years despite the corona travel bans, and it is now expected to pick up even more as French Jews see Israel as having better job opportunities and a better record on handling the COVID-19 menace. French Aliyah is up 137 percent in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year, while the number of Aliyah applications has quadrupled over the past year.

The Christian Embassy also will be sponsoring Aliyah flights over the next few weeks for about 30 American Jews making the move to Israel. This will bring the total number of Jews brought by the ICEJ on Aliyah flights to Israel this year to over 1,220 from 17 countries, plus another 700 newcomers assisted via pre-Aliyah programs.

Meanwhile, the ICEJ is preparing to fund Aliyah flights for several hundred more Jews in coming months, including large groups expected from Ethiopia and India. But we need your help! So please continue to support the Aliyah efforts of the ICEJ.