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December 19, 2014

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 19, 2014 Jews from France see a future for themselves in Montreal Julie and Nathanael Weill with their sons Eytan and Lior in 2013.: By Josh Tapper TORONTO (JTA)--When Dan Charbit and his wife, Gaelle Hazan, moved to Montreal from Paris two sum- mers ago, it was meant to be a temporary fix--a yearlong attempt for Charbit to reboot his stalled career as a special- effects artist in Quebec's thriving film and television industry. They agreed to fly home if the experiment failed. Fourteen months after arriving in Canada, the cou- ple has no desire to return to France. The 43-year-old Charbit, who won an Emmy earlier this year for work on the fourth season of the hit HBO show "Game of Thrones," started a new job last month as a supervisor at Mokko, a Montreal-based special- effects studio serving the film and television industries. Hazan, 39, has found employ- ment as a construction project manager. Charbit and Hazan are part of a new wave of French Jews who have resettled in French-speaking Quebec, fleeing France's dismal un- employment rate, which hit 10.5 percent in September, as well as the shock of anti- Semitism that has reverber- ated throughout the country in recent months and crested over the summer during waves of anti-Israel demon- strations. France's Jewish Com- munity Protection Service reported 527 anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2014, compared with 276 in the same period last year. In recent months-- and especially in the wake of the most recent Gaza war-- there have been inci- dents of Jews being harassed, even physically assaulted, in the streets, and synagogues and Jewish-owned stores and restaurants being torched. And notably, in 2012, four people, including three children, were killed during a shooting rampage at a Jewish school in Toulouse. While Israel remains the destination of choice--5,063 French Jews made aliyah be- tween Jan. I and Sept. 30, ac- cording to the Jewish Agency for Israel, the most from any European country--Quebec, and its largest city of Montreal in particular, is quietly be- coming a popular alternative for migrs. "I hear and I know of young couples moving to Quebec," said Serge Cwajgenbaum, the Lyon, France-born secretary general of the European Jew- ish Congress. "The reason is not necessarily related to the rise of anti-Semitism, but it's more to find a proper future, in terms of good work, good salaries and a cheaper way of life." There are some 90,000 Jews in the Montreal metropolitan area. Jews are not the only French citizens resettling in Canada. Overall French immigration to Quebec has skyrocketed since 2011, when Canada last conducted its National Household Sur- vey. The French consulate in Montreal told the Canadian Press earlier this month that 55,000 French citizens had notified it of their residence in the city, a 45 percent increase from 2005. Since immigrants are not required to register upon arrival, the consulate estimated the actual number of French citizens in Montreal could be as high as 110,000. Although up-to-date data on French Jewish immigra- tion does not exist, Monique Lapointe, director of Agence Ometz, Montreal's primary Jewish social services and re- settlement organization, told JTA she has noticed a signifi- cant increase in newcomers, especially over the past year. Inquiries, Lapointe said, have poured in through Ometz's email system and Facebook page--including from French Jews currently living in Israel. "I wouldn't say it's a huge number of [immigrants]," Lapointe said. "But it's a trend. We'll be anticipating more." Lapointe described the average immigrant as single, between the ages of 25 and 35, "very well educated and looking for a new kind of life." The wider Montreal Jewish community, Lapointe said, is now in the early stages of crafting a coordinated ap- proach to handle the inflow. Thus far, it has been difficult to track newcomers, she added, partly because French Jews keep looser ties to Jewish community organizations than do their NorthAmerican counterparts. "In France, people don't talk about Jewishness," Lapointe said. "They're not used to community organiza- tions. Some will never come to see us. They don't have this reflex." Montreal's cheaper rents and relatively low cost of living are as much a draw for French Jews as the familiar language and secular Fran- cophone culture. In a focus group of French nationals conducted last year, Ometz identified four reasons Jews were moving out of France. The new immigrants pointed to a higher quality of life in North America, a greater openness toward immi- grants and shrinking job opportunities for a younger generation of French citizens back home. Families with children also reported a fear of anti-Semitism, and anxi- eties about their ability to practice Judaism safely amid a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks. For Julie Weill, a 31-year- old mother of three, the decision to leave her home in Strasbourg five years ago was prompted by the increasing sense of unease she and her husband, Nathanael, felt as Jews in France. While the modern Orthodox couple was never victimized by anti- Semitism, they heard stories from friends and family, and it was considered dangerous, Weill said, to walk around downtown Strasbourg wear- ing a yarmulke. When it came time for Nathanael to choose a post- doctoral fellowship in bioin- formatics, the Weills declined compelling offers from Eu- ropean schools and instead chose McGill University, in Montreal. They found the prospect of raising a religious family in Europe too unset- tling. "We wanted a place with a strong Jewish community, with Jewish schools, a place you can practice freely, where you feel safe" said Weill, whose synagogue in Montreal is run by another French immigrant from Strasbourg. Cwajgenbaum also noted that Quebec's Muslim popu- lation-roughly 221,000 of the 3.8 million residents in the Montreal metropolitan area--as a cause for concern; France's Muslims, of which there are roughly six mil- lion, compared with 500,000 Jews, are routinely fingered as culprits in the upsurge of anti-Semitism. Cwajgenbaum said the in- tegration of immigrants from the Arab world has been more successful in Quebec than in France, but speculated that the province may one day face similar problems from its swelling Muslim minority. The data, however, suggests that Quebec anti-Semitism is on the wane. Last year the province saw its number of re- portedanti-Semitic incidents fall to 250, a nearly 26 percent drop from 2012, according to B'nai Brith Canada, which tracks anti-Semitic activity across the country. Weill still finds it difficult to let her two boys, who attend a Sephardic Jewish day school, wear yarmulkes in public, an old habit from the family's life in Strasbourg. But the concern, she acknowledged, is largely "irrational." Charbit and Hazan, both non-observant, have also felt a difference in Quebec society treats its Jewish community. "In France, you don't put your mezuzah outside," Char- bit said. "Jewish life in Mon- treal is safer." By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) - Ashton Carter has cham- pioned the sale to Israel of state-of-the-art combat aircraft, has aligned himself with Iran hawks and was observed becoming misty- eyed when serenaded by Israeli soldiers. Carter, 60, President Obama's secretary of de- fense nominee, has been depicted in the media as the un-Chuck Hagel: Assertive and a bureaucratic in-fighter where Hagel, whose two-year stint as defense of secretary ended this month with his forced resignation, was seen as passive and at times at sea; and hawkish, where Hagel, a Vietnam vet who as a GOP senator was virtually alone in his caucus in criticizing the Iraq War, was brought in by Obama to draw down U.S. military involvement overseas. Yet on Israel policy, Carter would represent more conti- nuity than change should he be confirmed. That's in part because, despite diplomatic tensions between the Obama and Netanyahu governments, the security relationship re- mains as solid and ever-- and also because Carter, until last Under Israel-friendly Ashton Carter, no major shift expected at Pentagon year a deputy defense secre- tary, is a loyal soldier to his boss' agenda. "Ash Carter is a very re- spected guy inWashington; he should have no trouble being confirmed," said Michael Ma- kovsky, the CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, who served as a senior defense official in the George W. Bush administration. "He knows the building," Makovsky said of Carter, using a Pentagon euphemism for an inside player. Statements from Repub- lican senators suggest that Carter, who is known for his ability to cut costs and improve efficiency, may be a shoo-in. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told JTA in an emaii: "I am hopeful that Ashton Carter's expertise on defense and mili- tary weaponry amid budget constraints, along with his deep understanding of the culture at the Pentagon, will help the Administration to adopt a more coherent and ef- fective long-term strategy for combating the many threats faced by the United States and its allies." Kirk said the administra- tion "is not doing enough to roll back Iran's growing nuclear and terror threats throughout the Middle East." Hagel, despite fierce op- position during his 2012-13 nomination process from pro-Israel hawks, leaves the defense postwith warm kudos from his Israeli counterpart, Moshe Yaalon, and from the Anti-Defamation League -- one of the groups that had reservations about Hagel's Israel criticism during his Senate career. His "contributions to Is- rael's defense infrastructure and to Israeli relations with the United States were great and very substantive," Yaalon said of Hagel in a Hebrew tweet. The ADL said Hagel's "energetic stewardship" of the U.S.-Israel relationship had been "vital." Hagel was pushed out over his inability to pierce the in- ner circle in the White House national security team, and because his approach to draw- ing down troops was seen as no longer appropriate given increased U.S. involvement in conflict zones overseas. Consistency on Pentagon cooperation with Israel is a given, whether or not the candidate, like Carter, has pro-Israel bona fides, said Anthony Cordesman, a strat- egy analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has advised U.S. governments on warfare. "Virtually every adminis- tration has made close mili- tary ties with Israel a military priority," Cordesman said in an interview. "It is simply a fact of American political life." Still, those who know Carter say his record of understanding Israeli needs during stints as undersecre- tary of defense foracquisiti0ns from 2009 to 2011, and then as deputy secretary from 2011 to 2013, made him a choice pick from the pro-Israel point of view. Carter, trained as a physi- cist, demonstrated a keen, detailed understanding of Is- rael's technical needs, said Udi Shani, the director-general of Israel's defense ministry from 2010 to 2013. "I found him very positive, very understanding of the needs of our country, our requirements for security and developing the IDF and the Ministry of Defense," Shani, now a consultant, said in an interview. Shani said one attribute made Carter an especially valuable interlocutor: He was honest and would describe outright what reception the United States was likely to, give an Israeli proposal. . "He had the transparency to say whether it was against their interests or for their interests," Shani said. Carter is well known for shepherding through Israel's inclusion in the Joint Fight Striker program, a collab- orative venture by the United States and a number of allies to manufacture a stealth fighte r that is due for release this decade. A colleague of Carter's at the Pentagon, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the project, said Carter played a critical role in cutting through red tape to make sure Israel's demands for the aircraft were included. "We would laugh about how we can't make deci- sions quickly" because of the respective U.S. and Israeli bureaucracies, Shani said. Shani and Carter became close friends, spending hours chatting over meals and on outings. Carter, Shani said, became emotional during a visit to Yad Vashem, and enthusiastically received an army choral performance. "It was simple soldiers singing Hebrew songs," Shani recalled. "He enjoyed it very much." Carter was part of a team that drafted an influen- tial 2008 report,"Meeting the Challenge," on Iran's nuclear capability. Many of the recommendations in the report, which was prepared for the Bipartisan Policy Center, comportwith current Obama administration policy, particularly in emphasizing the need for maintaining an international coalition in dealing with Iran. Other recommendations, however, are closer to what is now the position of the Israeli government and Republicans in Congress: not allowing Iran any uranium enrichment capacity whatsoever. Obama administration officials have said that should nuclear talks now underway between Iran and the major powers arrive at a deal, Iran would likely remain with a minimal en- richment capability. Makovsky led the writing of the Bipartisan Policy Center report and is critical of the talks. He said that Carter, while fairly described as "tough" on Iran, would most likely hew to the administra- tion policy that has evolved since the launch of the talks. Cordesman agreed, saying, "There's adifference in talking in theory and dealing with actual negotiation."