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May 7, 2015 11:02 am

Number of Eastern European Jews Making Aliyah Sees Dramatic Increase Over Past Year

avatar by Zack Pyzer / Tazpit News Agency

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Shelling damage in a Donetsk suburb resulting from the fighting between Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian rebel forces. Photo: YouTube screenshot via Wikimedia Commons.

The Jewish Agency for Israel said in a new report that immigration to Israel (Aliyah) from Western Europe in the first quarter of 2015 was unchanged from the same period last year.

However, the statistics revealed a large increase in the number of immigrants (olim) arriving from Eastern Europe, where an unstable economic and security situation prompted more emigration. Ukrainian Aliyah alone rose by a whopping 215 percent compared to the same period last year.

Professor Robert Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, says there are strong links between increasing anti-Semitism in Europe and emigration to Israel.

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“It is indisputable that the dominant factor behind Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe is anti-Semitism,” Wistrich told the Tazpit News Agency Monday.

“Any comparisons to the situation in Ukraine, where Aliyah is also caused by anti-Semitism, although to a smaller extent, is a false comparison,” he added.

One reaction to the Jewish Agency’s report, in some Israeli and international newspapers, declared that anti-Semitism is simply one of many factors behind Aliyah from Western Europe. Economic considerations were touted as a more influential factor.

Wistrich, however, thoroughly disagreed with that analysis. He claimed that such statements were “jumping to conclusions,” and ignored longstanding work.

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