French With Many Tears


This article is based on one written by Cnaan Liphshizof the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to which I have added my analysis.

Zionists who insists all Jews must come to live in Israel are like pro-Life campaigners. They will move heaven and earth to persuade – or frighten – people to upsticks and emigrate. But once the baby is been born – and the families have uprooted themselves to Israel, for them a foreign country – they stop caring. Their job is done.

Which is why many thousands of French Jews who emigrated to Israel in the past two years as Israeli politicians repeatedly told them they would only be safe in the Holy Land are now bitter and bewildered. They may still believe their lives are safer, but when it comes to their livelihoods they are realizing they have made a serious mistake.

Catherine Berdah ran a successful pharmacy in an affluent suburb on the eastern edge of Paris until she sold up to move to Israel. With a master’s degree in business and decades of experience, Berdah earned over £4,200 per month and had 14 employees. Last year she moved with her husband and two teenage daughters, hoping to build a new pharmacy business in the Jewish state.

But six months on she has already quit one £4-per-hour job with no prospects and another in a health clinic where she was told to stack boxes which she was unable to lift. “At 60, I was told that lifting boxes was basically all I’m good for,” Bredah said. “That’s when I started to feel humiliated.”

To be able to practice in Israel she has been told she must produce her attendance log from a pharmacology internship she completed 30 years ago with a French pharmacist who is no longer alive. She must then take an exam with an 80 percent fail rate.

“French physicians, nurses and pharmacists who’ve studied for five and eight years won’t work here as sanitary workers like their Russian counterparts did in the 1990s,” said Mickael Bensadoun, the director of Qualita, an umbrella body for French immigrants. “They’re Zionist, but there’s a limit. If it comes to that, they’ll return to France or move to countries hungry for skilled newcomers, like Canada.”

Their plight recalls that of Russian immigrants who arrived in Israel in the 1990s, many of them highly trained professionals with advanced degrees forced to work low-skill jobs as rubbish collectors and street sweepers because their credentials were not recognized. I recall a concert violinist reduced to busking in Jerusalem, and he was not alone.

Israeli authorities have been accused of creating unnecessary obstacles to protect local professionals from immigrant competition. The Israeli Health Ministry declined to respond to the charge and referred all inquiries to the Ministry for Immigrant Absorption, which said that “efforts are underway to resolve issues” – as 15-20 percent of French immigrants to return to France within two years.

Meyer Habib, a Jewish member of France’s National Assembly, declared he would advise French Jews not to go. “I cannot support a situation which creates tragedies in people’s lives,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I’m going to give it another year,” Catherine Berdah said. “But it’s not going too well.” The situation has put strains on her marriage as husband Michel, already wants the family to return. “We are obviously not wanted here”, he says.


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