What now for UK’s French Jews?

As we emerge from ‘Shabbat Brexit’, what is now at stake for French Jews in London? And what could it mean in terms of further emigration from France to the UK?

In the past few days, I have been asked whether I would be allowed back in were I to travel abroad. Well, I did travel… and I was allowed back in, no questions asked.

My theory is that, for current residents, there will be no panic, but many questions along the following lines:
• Will I have to apply for some type of residency status two to three years from now?
• Should I apply for dual citizenship?
• Will it be more difficult for my family members and friends in France to join me if they elect to do so?

That last question leads us to switch perspective and look at things from the vantage point of Jews in France and whether both their chances and appetite to move to London have been affected by the leave victory.

From a security standpoint, the waters are a bit muddled. On the one hand, France will not be spared by the turmoil created by this economic and political weakening of Europe and the reinforcement of extreme right nationalistic feelings. This is not good for the Jews.

On the other hand, the first nationalistic gambit in the reconfiguration of the map belongs well and truly to the UK, as proven by the results of the referendum. So: safer in the UK than in France? Today, yes. Tomorrow: who knows?

I had the opportunity of spending last Friday night dinner in Brussels with Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission. He did worry about the implied emergence of nationalistic agendas (when has it resulted in better democracy?) and of the dismissing of intellectual reasoning to the benefit of identification with emotions and soundbites (again, when has this ever resulted in betterment?).

From an economic standpoint, many French Jews work in or for the City and both the prospects of economic downturn and its accompanying lay-offs and the possible relocation of European operations to the continent, cast a shadow on their perspectives.

Many, for whom the City was the next Eldorado, will now hedge their bets and most likely delay any plans to move here.

About the Author
Marc is French chairman, Hendon Synagogue
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