CEO March 2014 Update

Samuel H. Asher CEO

Growing anti-Semitism drives new wave of immigration to Israel

When I was in Israel in November at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, I heard a startling statistic. There were 3,270 new Olim from France in 2013, a 63-percent increase from the year before. These new immigrants are helped in their Aliyah process by funds raised in our JCFR Annual Campaign and allocated to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

One thinks of France as a significant western European country with great wealth and prosperity. But the picture has changed in recent years. According to some of the new Olim, the economy is weak and some of the younger Jews are being passed over for the better jobs because of subtle anti-Semitism.

New Olim come to Israel under the Law of Return, which says that any Jew can immigrate to Israel. It is our safe haven.  Many of the French Jews prefer the safe haven of Israel, even with the turmoil of the Middle East.

Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency and well-known former Soviet dissident, spoke at the GA and predicted even more growth in Aliyah from France. I met new Olim from France at a JCFR-supported youth village the last time I was there. Others at the GA spoke about more French Jews buying apartments in Jerusalem and flying back and forth to France to hedge their bets.

So, there is unquestionably a rise in anti-Semitism, which leads to increased Aliyah.

Another form of anti-Semitism, which we hear more about every day takes its form in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Speaking to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem recently, the JTA quoted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, “In the past, anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state. And by the way, only the Jewish state,” he said. “Now don’t take my word for it. The founders of the BDS movement make their goals perfectly clear. They want to see the end of the Jewish state. They’re quite explicit about it.”

The JTA article goes on to say that; “The Presidents Conference has been involved in delegitimizing boycott efforts against Israel, most recently working to garner the support of American universities and colleges against the call by the American Studies Association for a boycott of Israeli universities.”

We will continue to monitor anti-Semitism and report it to you.  We will continue to support the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Joint Distribution Committee, which do amazing work on our behalf in Israel.  We will continue to take groups to Israel and to advocate on behalf of Israel through our Jewish Community Relations Committee.

Join us at our Campaign closing on March 5 (see article on above/left or visit for more information) and help us celebrate another increased campaign, which benefits our work in Richmond, nationally, in Israel  and around the world.

We are our brother’s keeper.

As always, call (804) 545-8622 – or write me, email me at  or text me and let me know if you are interested in joining us.