France’s embattled Jewish population is no stranger to turmoil. Jews have been the targets of several terrorist attacks in France by Muslim jihadists over the last several years. France’s Jews are becoming increasingly aware of the uncertain future France holds for them as French demographics change and Muslim extremism rises in the republic.
France has been (arguably) proactive in protecting its Jewish population by guarding synagogues and schools with armed security forces. At one point, after 2015’s Hypercacher supermarket attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged French Jews to abandon France and emigrate to Israel. Expectedly, the controversial invite did not sit well with some in French government.
And some Jews are leaving France. Last year 5000 Jews left France for Israel according to The Jewish Agency of Israel:
Daniel Benhaim, who heads the Israeli-backed group in France, said that insecurity had been a “catalyst” for many Jews who were already thinking of leaving.
The 5,000 departures in 2016 add to the record 7,900 who left in 2015 and 7,231 in 2014. In total, 40,000 French Jews have emigrated since 2006, according to figures seen by AFP.
While the 2016 emigration numbers are down from the two record years before it, France’s ethnic tensions are causing many Jews to reconsider if the country is able to protect them from antisemitism and rising influx of radical Muslims hellbent on destroying them.
Yet Israel is not without its own security problems, obviously. The country has been a constant target of terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists since its inception. Just this past week a terrorist used a truck as a weapon to kill four IDF officer cadets and injure several other people, seemingly mimicking a similar attack which occurred in Nice, France last year.
As of 2014 France had a Jewish population of 465,000 people. The country has lost around 20 000 of its Jewish citizens to Israel in the last three years. Some will return to France, many will not.
Is France prepared for a future without its Jews?