Simon and Alice Midal are making aliya from France on Wednesday because of antisemitism.. (photo credit: ILANIT CHERNICK)
PARIS – “We’re leaving because of the situation for the Jews in France,” said Simon and Alice Midal, long-time residents of Levallois-Perret, a wealthy suburb northwest of Paris.
At 76 years old, the couple has decided it is time to bid adieu to France, and will be on a flight together with some 100 immigrants leaving on Wednesday
A delegation of journalists on a tour with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) met with the couple – pillars of the Jewish community here – on Tuesday.
After working in leadership positions within several Jewish organizations including B’nai B’rith, the European Jewish Congress and the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, Midal said the rising tide of antisemitism in France has made him and his wife realize that it was time to leave.
Both were born in Switzerland in 1943, where their Parisian parents had fled to escape the Holocaust.
“We’re both retired, but we’re very proud Zionists,” he explained. “We were in youth movements and the Jewish scouts, all which were very Zionistic.”
Midal said antisemitism in France has become catastrophic, and that notwithstanding laws against racism, including antisemitism, there is little enforcement.
“Working for these groups, I see day-to-day what is happening in France,” he said, adding that the government “is not doing anything to fight against racism, antisemitism, violence and the praise of Islamic extremism in France.” This, he said, was a difficult situation for the Jewish community.
“We’re not waiting for the municipal elections” in 2020 the couple said, explaining that more Muslims will likely be elected leading to elements of Sharia law being enacted because of the growing Muslim population.
“This will cause problems for the Jews,” he said. “Already in places like Les Mattes there are public schools that will not serve pork… Pork is a main addition to dishes in France, and here the public schools can’t serve it.”
In Aulnay-sous-Bois, he said, the city’s swimming pool has been closed because the municipality elected several years ago demanded the pool be open on specific days for Muslim women only.
Midal said that this is one of his biggest concerns, along with the rise in antisemitism, and that he was not optimistic that issues of racism, including antisemitism, would be solved because of President Emmanuel Macron’s close economic ties with Arab countries.
“France’s economy comes first before anything,” he stressed.
Asked about the future of the Jews in France, the couple expressed that they were not optimistic that the issues would be solved unless there “is some sort of effective intervention.
“The government and public powers must do something to fight all forms of racism in France,” Simon said, adding that despite being Zionistic, they probably wouldn’t leave France if the situation for Jews wasn’t this bad.
Alice Midal added that their children were surprised by their decision, with her son saying that they haven’t been exposed to much antisemitism.
Teddy and Rochelle Gnassia will also be arriving on Wednesday, making aliyah to give their three children – between three and 10 – a chance for a better life.
Sitting on the terrace of her parents’ holiday home in the countryside, Rochelle, 34, cited two reasons for making aliyah.
“The first is that there’s been a change in the French population in how Jews are viewed, a change in the security situation,” she said. “The second is that the education is more open-minded in Israel. Here it’s very closed and strict. Children are sent in the direction of becoming doctors, dentists and lawyers, but in Israel it’s different.”
Rochelle added that her father is Israeli, and that her entire family is already living in Israel apart from her older brother.
“He hopes to come soon,” she said. “He’s very religious, more than us. We keep Shabbat and the holidays, kosher, and the children were in a Jewish school.”
The Gnassias plan to live in Netanya, where the rest of her immediate family lives.
Asked about challenges they may face in Israel, both Rochelle and her husband said they are concerned about finding work, and the language barrier.
“Our first step is to learn Hebrew so we can get good jobs,” Teddy said. “We hope that within a year we will be integrated in Israel. We want to be Israeli, not French people just living in Israel.”
Rochelle added that everything is going to be new to them, “even the smallest of things, including food.”
Teddy said that the family comes from a good neighborhood in Paris, but antisemitism has been creeping in. This, together with security concerns for their children who study at a Jewish school, led to their decision to move to Israel.
“I started seeing graffiti [against Jews] near the school… We realized that despite being in a good neighborhood where we were very cacooned, we are not vaccinated against antisemitism.”
He added that even the language in the recent demonstrations against Macron, which had nothing to do with the Jews, was antisemitic.
The children said they had mixed feelings about the move, as it’s not easy to leave their friends and life here behind.
Tears streaming down his face, their middle son Liam, who is seven, shared how he is nervous about aliyah.
“I don’t know Hebrew,” he said, hugging his mother. “It’s stressful.”
However, he and his parents concurred that they are excited to be living by the sea and to be close to their grandparents.
Teddy added that when he was a child, it was his parents’ dream to make aliyah.
“Theye wanted to give us a better life,” he said. “They’re happy for me and for my children that we’re finally fulfilling this dream.”
A JAFI statement said that “onboard this ‘Flight of the Century’ will be mainly young families from Paris who will be absorbed throughout the country, and a number of unmarried women” who will be absorbed at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem.
“The youngest immigrant on the flight from France is two months old, and along with him there are 35 other children who will take the flight to begin kindergarten and school” after the summer vacation.
“The immigration flight from France symbolizes the beginning of the ‘Aliyah season,’ in which thousands of new immigrants from all over the world will arrive in Israel this summer with the assistance of the Jewish Agency,” it added, citing a statistic that 37,000 of the 119,000 French citizens who immigrated to Israel since the establishment of the State came via the assistance of the Jewish Agency.
JAFI chairman Isaac Herzog said he was looking forward to seeing “the joy of the hundreds of immigrants who are making the journey from France to the State of Israel, their historic home, and opening a new chapter in their lives.”
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.