Is a France Without Jews Possible?

France is one of the oldest countries in the world, having a rich history that goes back to the sixth century BCE. It has seen the birth of many important figures such as Charlemagne, Napoleon and others. Additionally, the French language replaced Latin as the international language from the 17th century until the middle of the 20th century when it was replaced by English. There has been a Jewish presence in France for a very long time. To this day, the country has had a long love/hate relationship with its Jewish community. Even though the Jews have always had friends and will continue to do so in France, consider some of the following non-exhaustive tragic historical records:

• The First Crusade was organized by Pope Urban II in France in 1095.
• Accused of "Ritual Murder" during Holy Week, Jews were burned at the stake in France in 1187.
• The yellow badge of shame to identify Jews, known as "la rouelle" was introduced in France in 1215, later to be taken to new heights by the Nazis as the yellow star.
• 12,000 volumes of the Talmud were burned in France in 1242.
• Jews were repeatedly expelled from France in 1182, 1306, 1322, 1394 and 1453.
• The Dreyfus Affair took place in Paris in 1894, falsely accusing Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus of treason.
• 78,000 French Jews were sent to their death in the Camps by the Vichy government of France during World War Two (1939-1945)
• There was a terrorist attack at Jo Goldenberg Jewish Deli in the Paris Jewish district in 1982 (6 deaths).
• Ilan Halimi was abducted and murdered in 2006.
• A Rabbi and three Jewish students died in the Toulouse Massacres of 2012.
• The Paris terrorist attack in January of 2015 claimed 17 lives (four Jewish people form the Kosher market).

I could obviously add a lot more to this somber list but these will suffice to make my point. France has a long reputation of anti-Semitism. The whole gamut of anti-Semitism is actually represented there from theological anti-Judaism to racial anti-Semitism to the new anti-Semitism, culminating in the current wave that I call End-Times anti-Semitism. In fact, anti-Semitism runs extremely deep into the French soil. It would be erroneous to put the blame simply on the Arab/Israeli conflict and the global ramifications that it has created. To be sure, Muslim anti-Semitism cannot be ignored, but it never was and never will be the sole root of the French anti-Semitic weed.

The latest outrage out of France is an apparent act of discrimination against an Israeli art professor wanting to bring students from Tel Aviv to both the Louvre museum and the Sainte-Chapelle church. When turned down for reservations, he applied again under two fictitious organizations from Abu Dhabi and Italy, only to be immediately accepted. In light of the level of animosity against Jews and Israel in France and the heavy involvement in the BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), one is to wonder the real motives behind the refusal. An inquiry is underway. The Louvre has already rebooked the group and is claiming that their computerized booking system is incapable of any discrimination. Sainte-Chapelle is all done by hand and results from the inquiry are still pending. It could turn out that there was no malice in the process. I certainly hope so.

France's prime minister Manuel Valls who delivered a poignant, gut wrenching speech against anti-Semitism and racism only days after the January terrorist attacks, has also pledged over 100 million euros towards the fight against anti-Semitism. But recognizing how bad a weed is, serves no purpose unless you actually pull the chocking weed from the ground. Additionally, if the soil isn't properly fertilized, the weed can soon return stronger and deeper. France without Jews, according to Mr. Valls isn't France at all. This might turn out to be a very hard sell for the prime minister.

I firmly believe that the vast majority of France, including the largest Muslim community in Europe couldn't care less if the Jews leave. I also happen to believe that France is making a grave mistake by its nonchalant approach to the oldest hatred. French Jews are leaving in droves (7,200 made aliyah to Israel last year). They are taking with them culture, knowledge and creativity. As a result, this will undoubtedly create a void AND an imbalance in the French economy. Israel expects up to 10,000 more French Jews in 2015. This is all based on not experiencing any more terrorism and murders, something I am certain is unrealistic!

The Jewish community ceased feeling at home in France in 2006 after the Ilan Halimi murder. Since then, anti-Semitism has been on the rise. A France without Jews is very possible and is most likely to happen within the next 20 years or less. It really doesn't matter if "France isn't France without its Jews" because France has ceased from being France a while ago already ! We would be fools if we thought that France is the only European country losing its Jewish community in the 21st century. It is the first but certainly not the last.

On the other hand, it is encouraging to be reminded that God cares about Israel and the Jews–no matter where they are from. In His word, God is crystal clear about His unconditional love for Israel and the Jewish people. Even the Messiah comes from the Jewish people and it should also be clear that He is the only hope for Israel (Isaiah 52-13-53:12).

Is this an Aliyah or an Exodus for French Jews?

It has only been two months since the terrorist attacks in France led to the death of 17 people including four Jews in a kosher supermarket on the east side of Paris. Prime minister Manuel Valls delivered an emotional speech punctuated with rightful indignation in front of the French Assemblée Nationale, calling anti-Semitism "The symptom of a democracy in crisis". French President François Hollande vowed to defend France's Jews when he was recently quoted saying: "Jews are at home in France, it's the anti-Semites who have no place in the republic, in protecting its Jews, the republic is protecting itself."
 In reality, French Jews continue to feel very uneasy in France. The assurance of safety seems to only be a façade. Even with 10,000 troops and police officers deployed all over France in front of key Jewish locations like schools and synagogues, French Jews do not feel properly protected. After all, it wasn't long after the January attacks that some French soldiers were attacked by a man as they were guarding a Jewish site. Additionally, a Jewish cemetery was vandalized in northern Alsace and over 200 tombstones were destroyed. French Jews are scared and they are not alone. Other European Jewish communities have joined the French in their feeling of uncertainty. But there is no doubt that France leads the pack when it comes to immigration to Israel.

This unprecedented increase in immigration didn't just happen because of the Paris attacks of January 2015. To be sure, the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in general and France in particular has led to an exponential increase in the number of European Jews making Aliyah. But again, France is way ahead of all the other European countries. In 2012, about 2,000 Jewish people left France for Israel followed by 3,120 in 2013 (a 60% increase over 2012). Then in 2014, over 7,000 French Jews made Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, making it the largest Aliyah out of France since the 1970s and the top country for Jewish emigration in 2014( the highest global number in 12 years). We must keep in perspective that this number of over 12,000 Jews out of France over the last three years all happened even before the events of January 2015.

Over 1,000 Jews have already left France for Israel in the first two months of 2015. Numbers could exceed 10,000 by the end of the year. This is of course if no other tragic act of anti-Semitism takes place in France, something I am unfortunately not willing to bet on. Here are some other frightening statistics from the Jewish People Policy Institute:

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky expressed his fears in the summer of 2014 in Paris while the Gaza War was taking place in the Middle East, and French Jews were already leaving in droves. He was quoted saying: “Something historic is happening, it may be the beginning of the end of European Jewry. I think it’s a tragedy for Europe, what is happening in France, the strongest of Europe’s Jewish communities, reflects processes taking place elsewhere in Europe. I keep asking people if Jews have a future in Europe.”

I am afraid that Mr. Sharansky might have been right. We could be witnessing the start of the decline of European Jewry with the departure of the French Jews as some sort of "handwriting on the wall" of western European civilization. The question that I ask myself has to do with the numbers of Jews leaving or planning to leave in the next few years. While a few thousands already create a noticeable demographic shift, if we indeed see up to 100,000 Jews leave France in the next five years or so, we are not talking Aliyah anymore, we are talking exodus.

Not all French Jews will immigrate to Israel. Some will move to America, Canada and even the U.K, but those who choose to make Israel their new home will constitute a formidable demographic and economic challenge to region. Set aside the challenge, Israel will gain a pool of people that will undoubtedly contribute to its further developing. It will be a win/win situation for the French Jews and Israel.

The loser in all this will be Europe. Already demographically circling the drain, Europe cannot afford to lose its Jews. With the Jews still in Europe, we are already seeing the emergence of Eurabia as a result of the Muslim "demographic Jihad" of the last 50 years. Even though French government officials expressed their desire to see French Jews remaining in the country, If France cannot protect its Jews, it is only a matter of time before other people groups or minorities become a target.

If indeed we are in the infancy stage of a mass European Jewish exodus, there is much more at stake than the loss of a once thriving community. God was not speaking figuratively when He promised Abraham to bless those who bless him and the Jewish people and curse him who curses them (Genesis 12:1-3). God meant every word of it then and He means every word of it today. With its Jews leaving, France becomes even more vulnerable to her enemies. Isn't it ironic that the very people that many have described as a curse actually are a blessing from God?