Jacklyn and Gerard Benishu
Photo: Yael Branovsky

'In France I was worried, in Israel I feel safe'

Two planes carrying 600 new immigrants from France land at Ben-Gurion Airport, marking biggest aliyah event since beginning of year. More than 3,000 olim expected to arrive from France by end of 2007

"When I got on the plane on the way to Israel, I immediately felt calm and secure. In France I was always worried when my children went on the underground on their own, or even just wandered the streets. I always dreamt of immigrating to Israel; I feel safe here," Jacklyn Benishu said Wednesday morning after landing in Israel as a new immigrant.


Benishu arrived with 600 other new immigrants from France on two planes which landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in the morning.


The two planes, one from Paris and one from Marseilles, marked the biggest aliyah event since the beginning of the year.


Officials at the Jewish Agency for Israel, which organized the event with AMI (Aliyah et Meilleure Integration), said that this year has seen a 10 percent rise in the number of new immigrants from France compared to the previous year, making 2007 a record year for French aliyah.


More than 3,000 olim are expected to come to Israel, as opposed to 2,900 in 2006. This is a 35-year record.

First morning in Israel (Photo: Yael Branovsky)


Most of the new immigrants who arrived Wednesday morning will be absorbed in Jerusalem, Netanya, Ashdod and Ashkelon, as part of a project of the Ministry for Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency, which encourages the aliyah of organized groups from the country of origin.


Talking to Ynet on her way to Israel, Jacklyn Benishu said that her two older sons were already in the Jewish state. The oldest one made aliyah a year ago because he had always dreamt of joining the IDF, and now serves in the Air Force. The second son is going to be drafted in the coming months.


Benishu arrived in Israel with her second husband Gerard and their two younger sons.


In Paris Benishu owned a beauty parlor, and she plans to open one in Israel as well.


Her husband Gerard lost two children from his first marriage. His son was killed in a road accident when he was 17 years old, and his daughter died of an illness when she was seven. Their father views his immigration to Israel not only as a realization of the Zionist dream, but also as an opportunity to start a new life.


Gerard's three other children from his first marriage stayed in Paris with his ex-wife, but he hopes that they will eventually also make aliyah.


Gerard Benishu worked at the French Socialist Party in the 1970s, starting as the private driver of former President Francois Mitterrand. He took part in the election campaign of party candidate Segolene Royal, who recently lost the presidency to Nicolas Sarkozy.


Talking to Ynet, he said, "I am not sure I will be able to enter politics in Israel as well, but after I reach a reasonable level of Hebrew I will start learning and try, although I am not sure I will stay with the left-wing parties."


The new immigrants were greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by President Shimon Peres, Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski and Immigration Absorption Minister Jacob Edery.


פרסום ראשון: 07.25.07, 09:36
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