Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed Tuesday some 650 new immigrants (olim) from France who arrived at the Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv despite the worrying security situation in the country.
"The current days demand of each of us, old or young, to make a big sacrifice," the PM told the newcomers. "Israel's enemies fire missiles from the north and south designed to hit Israeli residents in their homes and places of work. Sometimes they succeed and cause us much pain," he added.
"Their weapons, even when they hurt us, are nothing like the powerful, secret weapon we possess: The Jewish people that love the State of Israel, live here and want to protect this country. They don’t understand the special bond between the Jewish people across the world, and the special feeling of love and mutual commitment that prevails between all Jews, regardless of where they are," Olmert stated.
'We can overcome our enemies'
In his speech the PM hinted that the military campaign Israel is involved in may last for quite some time: "We are a strong people. We have the stamina required for prolonged battles, and we will carry on with this operation in order to obtain all our goals and overcome the enemies trying to harm the State of Israel and its people."
Olmert greeted the olim, saying that on a day when new immigrants arrive in the country, the entire state rejoices. "On a day when Jews who live in a western country, who have a choice, who are persecuted by no one, decide to come here – on such a day the State of Israel stands proud and happy, and it says to you: Welcome to the land of Israel."
The number of olim that arrived today with the assistance of the Jewish Agency, represents a new record matched only by aliya in the 70s . In the coming weeks another 700 new immigrants are expected to come from France.
Minister of Immigration and Absorption Zeev Boim explained: "The olim come here despite the war and out of Zionism and faith. In spite of the war there have been no cancellations. This certainly isn't 'distress immigration' but a move done out of choice."
'First of all – we want falafel'
One of the new olim, Julian Dahan, 29, who came here from the French Riviera, is unmoved by the fact he had left his classy lifestyle behind: "Everything in France is superficial. In any other place in the world I felt like I'm waiting for something, only here I feel like I'm home." Dahan claimed that he is not scared by the rockets: "It's a lot more dangerous in France, there are a lot of petty criminals and crime."
The Fabian family from Marseille–Yvonne and Jean Pierre with their two children – are also not afraid: "We're not scared and don't feel like we're at war. The only thing we're concerned about is how our lives will change and how we'll manage to integrate here."
Tami Gansia and Raul Vaknin who emigrated from Toulouse, have their minds set on one thing only: "First of all, to eat falafel. Then we'll worry about the rest. Life is good where you make it good, anywhere in the world. It was important for me to immigrate to Israel in order to prevent assimilation. I have an adolescent son and a grown up son who has been living in Israel for five years, and we wish to live next to him in Netanya," Tami stated.