The number of French Jews who have left their country and moved to Israel in the first quarter of 2014 is quadruple the amount who emigrated last year, according to an organization that provides services to Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel.
The Jewish Agency said on Monday that 1,407 Jews from France moved to Israel between January and March, compared with 353 people during the same period last year.
“This phenomenon is speeding up” Ariel Kandel, who heads the Jewish Agency’s French chapter, told Agence France-Presse, noting that a “climate of anti-Semitism” was one factor behind the spike in emigration numbers.
“We will not finish the year with four times more the number than in 2013, but if the current rhythm continues, there will be more than 5,000 French people leaving for Israel, something that has never happened since its [Israel’s] creation in 1948,” Kandel added.
The European Jewish Press reported that thousands of Jews attended a fair in Paris last month that displayed various residential and job opportunities in Israel.
A rabbi and three small children were killed in a terrorist attack in front of a Jewish school in Toulouse in southwest France in a 2012 incident that sent a chill throughout the Jewish community.
To accommodate the demand for immigration to Israel, the Jewish Agency plans to increase its personnel stationed in France, the European Jewish Press reported.
The Jewish community in France is one of the largest in Europe, estimated to be approximately 500,000.
AFP noted that the emigration of French Jews has steadily grown since the 2012 killings. In 2012, 1,907 moved to Israel, followed by 3,280 in 2013. Since 1948, the year the Jewish state gained independence, 90,000 French Jews have moved to Israel.
Earlier this month, the Jewish Agency reported that 777 immigrants had arrived in Israel from Ukraine since the beginning of this year, a 142 percent increase compared with the same time period last year.