Anti-Israel protest in Paris (archive)
Anti-Israel protest in Paris (archive)Reuters

Sammy Ghozlan, the founder of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) announced Monday that he plans to immigrate to Israel. 

The Frenchman, a former police commissioner whose organization is one of France's leading watchdogs on anti-Semitism, called the move "a message." 

“The departure, it’s a message,” Ghozlan said in an interview with news site “Leaving is better than running away. We do not know how things will play out tomorrow.”

Ghozlan's announcement came shortly after the publication of the Jewish Agency's annual report which found that France led the 2014 list in number of immigrants to Israel for the first time ever. 

Over 7,000 French Jews made aliyah in 2014 - more than double the 3,400 who immigrated in 2013. 

The sudden increase, attributed to skyrocketing anti-Semitism levels and incidents in France, has prompted the Jewish Agency to advance programs encouraging and facilitating aliyah for French citizens.

Anti-Semitism, which has been rising for years in France, flared particularly badly in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, with violent protests in Paris. A number of violent assaults have occurred since. 

However, Ghozlan warned that while a majority of the hundreds of violent attacks against Jews in 2014 were the work of Muslims, the French far-right was also contributing to the problem. He blamed the movement for incitement and attempts to limit freedom of worship. 

In an interview with daily newspaper Le Figaro on January 2, the president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) - the umbrella organization of French Jewish organizations - addressed the rising anti-Semitism and emigration away from France.

Roger Cukierman said that the emigration of Jews “represents a failure for France, where one population group suffers persecution because of its origins.”

Several days earlier, French President Francois Hollande said that thefight against racism and anti-Semitism will be his national cause for 2015. 

Ghozlan admitted that he is leaving his native France not only because of anti-Semitism, but because most of his children and grandchildren already live in Israel, along with other relatives and former members of the French Jewish community. He intends to settle in the Sharon region's coastal city Netanya, which has a large French population. 

He added that BNVCA will continue to run, with both French and Israeli staff. 

According to Ghozlan, his attitude toward France changed drastically in the past year, after Jews came under unprecedented attack by their countrymen for Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza. 

“After the protests in Sarcelles and Paris, where they shouted ‘death to the Jews’ in the presence of public officials, I carry in me a lot of bitterness,” he said.