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World

Paris Attack Resonates With Israelis As More French Jews Move To Israel

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now let's go to Israel where four victims from the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris are being remembered. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to mourners there. The numbers of Jews moving from France to Israel has been rising in recent years. And as NPR's Emily Harris reports from Jerusalem, that is magnifying the emotional and political response in Israel to the attacks in France.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Twenty-one-year-old Goreyl Chiche immigrated to Israel from France last October. He was shocked when two of his friends were killed in last week's supermarket attack in Paris.

GOREYL CHICHE: I don't know if it's a one-time event or if it's going to continue. I don't know. I really don't know. But I really want my family to come here - my mother, my father, my sisters, my brothers. I want everybody to follow me.

HARRIS: Seven thousand French Jews got Israeli citizenship last year. That's just over 1 percent of France's nearly half a million Jewish population, but it makes twice as many French immigrants to Israel as the year before. Following the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a special government team would take steps to increase Jewish immigration from Europe to Israel. The Jewish Agency encourages and facilitates immigration, but agency spokesman Yigal Palmor says this is political talk, and attracting immigrants is not that simple.

YIGAL PALMOR: They can't bring over anyone. And the truth is that no one knows whether immigration from France will rise this year.

HARRIS: In Paris, Netanyahu said the people who carried out the attacks there and those who killed Jews in a Jerusalem synagogue last fall are part of the same terrorist movement. France and Israel often disagree on steps to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Tsilla Herscho, an expert on French-Israeli relations at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, says last week's attacks might build empathy for Israel in France.

TSILLA HERSCHO: When they are confronted with things which we are confronted in our lives, I think they will understand Israel better, yeah.

HARRIS: She says French security services have, in recent years, sought training from Israel on fighting terrorist groups. Claude Taieb left France four years ago. She says she feels much safer in Israel.

CLAUDE TAIEB: Really I feel safer here because we can identify our enemy. In France, you cannot.

HARRIS: A more recent immigrant worries that too many French Jews could seek safety in Israel. If all Jews left France, he said, terror will have won. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.