by Tovah Dvorin
France's Economy Minister visits Israel to lure back Jewish business and hi-tech experts, insists Jews 'can innovate as well in France.'
French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron (R)
French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron visited the DLD Tel Aviv Digital Conference at the old train station on Tuesday, where he met with several prominent Israeli businessmen.
But more than strengthening economic ties between countries, Macron's visit is part of a larger agenda to stop brain drain.
“A lot of these people have energy, vitality. They want to create jobs, startups, and innovate here,” Macron said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “They can innovate as well in France."
More than 20,000 French Jews, mostly young people and families, have made Israel their home over the past five years.
Over 7,200 French Jews made aliyah in 2014 – an all-time record, and the first time since Israel's establishment that more than 1% of a Western country's Jewish population immigrated to the country in a single year.
That trend appears likely to only continue growing, as data compiled by the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption reveals some 4,260 immigrants from France have arrived in Israel as of July, an 11% increase compared to the 3,830 who came during the equivalent period in 2014.
That situation is delicate for French government officials like Macron, Haaretz reports, who have glumly recognized how anti-Semitism in their homeland has skyrocketed.
Macron insisted in a visit to a French high school last week that while Paris has not attempted to stop French Aliyah, it is “our responsibility is to make sure it’s a choice." To that end, Paris has boosted security around Jewish institutions - but it may be too little, too late.
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