"I've spoken to French Jews following last week, they said that for them this was a watershed and they no longer felt safe in France and shockingly they said they no longer felt French. They felt alienated by the climate of anti-Semitism around them," Jonathan Arkush told Sputnik.
Last Friday, a gunman took hostages in a Paris kosher supermarket killing four people. French President Francois Hollande called the assault a "dreadful anti-Semitic attack" and sent 10,000 troops to guard "sensitive sites", such as synagogues and places of mass gatherings.
"We all go to shops. You can guard synagogues, you could guard communal buildings, but you can't guard every shop, you can't stop people from going to shops. So it was a large shop in the area of Paris where Jewish people live, it was a popular shop," Jonathan Arkush pointed out.
He also noted that the percentage of Jews leaving France "is inevitably going to increase as a result of the events last week." However, the supermarket attack was not the first one in France targeting the Jewish community. In March 2012, a rabbi and three children were killed by a French Islamist who attacked a Jewish school in Toulouse.
"Now, a combination of not feeling at home and not feeling safe is a combination when you will take a very far reaching step and say I'm going to immigrate to another country. And unfortunately in France that line has been crossed," Arkush said, adding that there would not be a flood of immigration, but definitely a sharp increase.
He also noted that anti-Semitism is a partial reason for Jewish immigration away from France, as economic red tape and lack of economic opportunities also significantly contribute to decisions to leave the country, and not only among Jews. Moreover, Arkush stated that a substantial part of Jewish immigration from France is matched by immigration of French people who are not Jewish – also due to economic reasons.
In 2014, almost 7,000 Jews left France, in 2013 – over 3,000, while in 2008-2012 the average number stood at about 2,000. With a Jewish population of over half a million, France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe and the third largest in the world, after Israel and the United States.