Israeli Bureaucrats Learning To Say ‘Bienvenue’ Amid French Immigration Wave. Officials have a plan for recognizing French qualifications—to stop new arrivals from heading back to Europe.
But when she arrived a year and a half ago—one of thousands of French Jews to join in a new wave of immigration to Israel prompted by rising anti-Semitism and a weak economy in Europe—Aziza discovered that Israel’s labyrinthine bureaucracy was less than interested in making her feel at home. Like other French-trained medical professionals, she was told that her four-year physical therapy degree, and the five years she spent working in her own private practice in Paris, are worthless in Israel.
According to figures by the Jewish Agency and Israel’s Ministry of Immigration Absorption, 2013 marked the first time in many years that French immigration surpassed that from the United States. But Israel’s system of immigrant absorption was designed for “rescue” aliyah, rather than “aliyah of choice,” said Dr. Alain Zeitoun, a spokesperson from the Israel-France Forum, an organization that serves as a vital line of communication between the French immigrant medical community and Israeli government ministries.
Now facing a striking 63 percent upswing in French aliyah last year—and with as many as 42,000 French Jews expected to arrive in the next three years—the Israeli government is taking steps to help Aziza and those like her integrate into the Israeli system. In an effort to accommodate both French immigrants already living in Israel as well as thousands more who have expressed a desire to come, a three-year plan is expected to go into effect in the coming months that will recognize French degrees in the fields of optometry, physiotherapy, and tax consulting—specialties in which French Jews are especially well-represented, both in the existing immigrant community and in France. The program will also help with job placement in the style of Australia’s labor immigration system. LA SUITE.