Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for Jews to flee France or escape Denmark might be controversial given their timing and context, but his point isn’t so easily escaped. Jews are questioning their future Europe. Whether or not Aliyah is the only solution, the Prime Minister has not cleared the way for Aliyah en masse. There’s a lot that has to be considered, then planned, then done if any larger-than-usual or en masse Aliyah is going to happen from Europe and actually be successful.
1. Push Down the Hurdles
Immigrants are constantly pressed to monotonously transfer all their credentials – from driver’s licenses to physician certifications – into the Israeli system through a system of approvals. It’s absurd. There is no reason to question the qualifications of professional doctors, therapists and even driving from the European Union, the United States or Canada.
While I would go as far as to suggest not waiting for mutual recognition agreements between countries so we can make Aliyah quicker and less stressful for all those involved, it cannot be ignored Israel needs to demand the same sort of expediency from other countries in recognizing its own citizens’ Israeli credentials should they find themselves moving abroad or taking temporary residence somewhere. That being said, Israel’s diplomatic corps should resolve whatever issues there are between the Jewish State and other countries on degree recognition or professional licenses as quickly and liberally as possible.
One immediate area of concern is France’s unique system of vocational colleges, which cover many more fields than just technology or technician’s licenses like they do in places like the US. If Israel anticipates a major rise in French Aliyah interest, recognizing these schools’ graduates as literally certifiable would facilitate an even larger, and considerably more enjoyable, Aliyah experience for French Jews.
2. Clear the Bureaucracy
As redundant as this will sound (pun intended), just get it out of the way. The duties of the Absorption Office, Interior Ministry and Rabbanut should be consolidated under one roof and all on one computer filing system. That obviously would be a relevant change for all Israelis, but particularly for new immigrants who would have to learn to navigate a new country’s bureaucracy in an unlearned second language regardless of said bureaucracy’s level of efficiency.
3. Make the Financial Decision Easy
While Israel struggles to beat back one of the worst income-to-cost-of-living ratios in the OECD, the state can still make short-term remedies by encouraging Diaspora Jewish businesses to relocate their centers of operation to Israel and offer tax breaks for some designated period of time to enable such a drastic move.
The added benefit of more immigrant business owners is that they also diversify the Israeli marketplace for Israeli workers. One of the drawbacks of Israel’s current economy is the aforementioned ga between monthly salaries and the cost of living. Importing the attitudes of foreign business owners into Israel about the benefits of high compensation and the inclusion of extra benefits in pay would create a more competitive job market. Native Israeli entrepreneurs would have to begin offering competing packages to Israeli jobseekers and answer to current workers who might be more inclined to fight for raises and new benefits.
The GDP per capita, low in Israel relative to Western Europe and North America, would rise, partially addressing the original income problem mentioned above and generally benefitting the Israeli economy.
4. Don’t Rush Jews Here without their Assets
This fourth one isn’t obvious, but think about what characterized the Jewish escape from Germany or from the Arab World? It was sudden. There was no time to sell off assets. Many Jews came only with their skills and experience and without the property or money that reflected their lives in their former countries.
If things are getting worse in Europe to the point Jews need to leave, do not rush them out or create a plethora of legal and financial issues on account of a rushed move. If anyone wants to leave, make sure they are leaving with all their belongings. Give them free lifts to Israel. Give them time to sell land and homes.
If things get worse and Jews must flee suddenly, we’ll all know it. Right now, don’t rush Jews to sell things too quickly and undermine their own ability to endure a traumatic cultural shock of a move from Europe to Israel OR to undermine their ability to invest their own resources in strengthening Israel’s general economy in the long term.
The Beginning of All Things to Come
This is only the cusp of things that would make a massive influx of European Jews possible and such a seismic demographic shift permanent. Estimating the numbers and actual costs of these ideas is beyond the immediate scope of this list. That being said, weigh seriously how important these four launching points are, then demand their implementation or some variation of the parties you Israelis will vote for in upcoming elections.
L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris at night, image by user Thesupermat CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons