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Are Jews leaving Europe?

Author(s): Daniel Staetsky
Date: 12 January 2017

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Are Jews leaving Europe? authored by Senior Research Fellow Dr Daniel Staetsky, provides an in-depth analysis of Jewish migration to Israel from selected European countries, in the context of the changing politics and demography across the continent. In particular, it asks whether or not recent developments in migration to Israel are in any way unusual, either in scope, scale or motivation. In short, are Jews leaving Europe? And, if so, what prompts them to do so? Does antisemitism, in particular, play a role?

The report relies on multiple sources of data and advanced statistical methods to analyse migration to Israel from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom, all European countries with significant Jewish populations, where there is considerable public debate about the long-term future of Jewish communal life due to concern about rising antisemitism.

The new study investigates patterns of migration to Israel, generates hypotheses about what might explain these patterns and asks whether or not antisemitism in the source countries can reasonably explain some of the developments. It compares recent trends to previous cases of mass migration of Jews from Europe in response to persecution or major political upheavals, and tests the extent to which economic and political conditions in both Israel and Europe affect the intensity of Jewish migration to Israel.

The report reveals that there has been an increase in the propensity to migrate to Israel, particularly among Jews from France, Belgium and Italy, where the most recent levels of migration to Israel from these countries are historically unprecedented. Nevertheless, when compared with historical examples of mass migration of Jews, the scale of the current Jewish migration to Israel is far smaller and cannot meaningfully be termed an ‘exodus.’ In other countries (namely, the UK, Germany and Sweden) the current levels of migration do not appear unusual.

antisemitism aliyah emigration