|Jake Wallis Simons|
It is an old cliché that Jews should have a packed suitcase by the door. But now, it seems, European Jewry has decided that the time has come to put the suitcase to good use. This week, Natan Sharansky announced that global aliyah has grown this year by an astonishing 55 per cent. By the end of the year, more than 5,000 Jews from France alone are expected to move to Israel, a record-breaking one per cent of the entire French Jewish community. "Never in the history of the State of Israel has there been a Jewish community in the free world that has sent such a large proportion of its Jews to Israel," said Mr Sharansky. [Voir: France: jamais dans le monde libre autant de Juifs n'ont fait leur alyah]
Europe has a far more serious problem of anti-Semitism than Britain. [...]
But for some Zionists, the only way to live an authentically Jewish life is in the land of Israel, whether you fear persecution or not. When I appeared at the Jerusalem Writers' Festival in May, the distinguished Israeli novelist AB Yeshoshua restated his position that living outside of Israel is "a very deep failure of the Jewish people".
Almost every British Jew reports being deeply moved by visits to Israel. The experience of no longer being part of a minority is life-changing and the sense of self-confidence and pride that comes from existing as a Jew in a Jewish state can be a powerful intoxicant.
Moreover, many feel that simply living in Israel automatically creates a deep sense of purpose. Making a life in the Jewish state is an expression of triumph over the dark history of Jewish persecution, which lends a certain vitality to life. [...]
Is it possible to measure Jewishness? I for one am equally proud of being Jewish and British.
But in the light of the latest figures, Mr Yehoshua's position looks increasingly sensible. Israel provides a refuge when life in the Diaspora becomes stalked by fear. And if levels of anti-Semitism in Britain go the way of France, we'll be dusting off our suitcases.