Expert: French Immigration Falls Over Job Issues

YERUSHALAYIM -

French Jews are still interested in moving to Israel, but they need jobs, according to Ariel Kandel, chairman of the Kalita organization, a group dedicated to helping French Jews to immigrate to Israel. “Failure to provide work opportunities for professionals coming from France is a main reason that immigration from France is down,” he told Haaretz.

“The policy makers must remove bureaucratic blockages that prevent immigrants from working in their own professions and from working in the businesses they know,” he said, referring to complaints by many immigrants that their academic and medical degrees are not recognized by Israeli agencies, and that they are required to take further courses in order to qualify to work as doctors, dentists and lawyers in Israel. “It is important to bring immigrants to Israel, but it is just as important to care for them when they get here.”

The Immigration Authority announced Friday that 27,000 immigrants became Israeli citizens in 2016, 13 percent fewer than in 2015. 2016 marked the first year since 2007 when immigration was not greater than in the previous year — much of that due to a falloff in the number of French Jews immigrating to Israel.

In 2015, 31,000 immigrants became Israelis, but that number decreased to 27,000 in 2016 — mostly due to a falloff in the number of immigrants from France. In 2015, 8,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel; but in 2016, that number was 3,000.

The largest number of immigrants came from former Soviet Union countries. 7,000 immigrants came from Russia, and Ukraine supplied 5,500. Immigrants from the U.S. numbered 2,900. The largest number of immigrants came from former Soviet Union countries. 7,000 immigrants came from Russia, and Ukraine supplied 5,500. Immigrants from the U.S. numbered 2,900. More than half of all immigrants (14,650) were age 35 and under.

With that, the long-term immigration trend was still up. In 2008, Israel saw 15,000 immigrants, with that number growing to 19,000 by 2013; and in 2014 the number of immigrants was 27,000.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said that the very high immigration numbers of recent years were due to “external factors that have changed or disappeared.” Despite the lower immigration numbers, “we do see that the long-term trends remain in place. The number of immigrants to Israel, especially from the West, continues to be very high compared to the average of the last 15 years. These numbers remind us that the state must continue to invest more money in solutions to ensure the absorption of these immigrants.”