After the violence last week that targeted Jews, Prime Minister Netanyahu extended a warm welcome to the Jews of France to come home. Though it is true that French Aliyah more than doubled last year and is expected to increase even more, French Jews are also looking at destinations in America as safe havens from European anti-Semitism. South Florida seems especially attractive.

Thirty-two percent of adults in Miami’s Jewish community are foreign-born, according to recent estimates by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. Immigration court figures show a slight uptick in the number of asylum applications from French nationals starting in 2003 — but those figures do not specify whether applicants were French Jews. South Florida immigration attorneys say the majority of French Jews are arriving on immigrant, investor and business visas.

“Miami is a community which has all the benefits of the United States but with a strong and vital Jewish community,” said Jacob Solomon, executive vice president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. “The combination makes for an inviting point of destination.”

David Saltman, president of the Jewish Community Services of South Florida, said his agency has seen a steady influx in French and Argentine Jewish immigrants in particular. “Particularly in the last several years with the second intifada ,” Saltman said.

It might certainly be true that fleeing from Islamic terror in France, the valid fear they feel could understandably override their love of Israel. Israel is portrayed as a war-torn country, and that title is at least partly accurate, unfortunately.

Recently, a meeting was held between the French Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, who was appointed to his current position in September, and rabbis and leaders of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the Jewish Educational Leadership Institute, and the American Jewish Committee’s Greater Miami and Broward Regional Office and its Palm Beach County one. During the meeting, Araud, who also served as ambassador of France to Israel from 03-06, discussed French foreign policy views towards issues that are close to Israel and also of interest to the Jewish community that included the Iranian nuclear crisis, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation of the Jewish community in France.

“First, I think there is no denial. The French authorities are not denying that we are facing a problem [with anti-Semitism in France],” he said. “In a sense, as the president of the French Republic said, it’s the importation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into France because we have at one side the first Jewish community after the U.S. and Israel of course and on the other side the first Muslim community in Europe and to our total dismay, we have seen, especially during demonstrations against the Gaza crisis, young demonstrators attacking synagogues or attacking Jewish shops, so that is totally unacceptable and the French authorities have expressed that it is totally unacceptable and we are working very closely with the Jewish community in France to protect it.”

It should be noted that this meeting was held in November, before the recent attacks. In a recent meeting in which he addressed the attacks, his responses were slightly different. “It’s not troubling; it’s devastating. You know I’ve served twice in Israel, so I have in a sense a personal commitment to this question. Actually, we have seen a rise in this type of anti-Semitism for nearly a decade.”

For the security of synagogues, Jewish schools and other places, Araud says, “We are going to step up the measures of protection that we have been taking for some time.”

Araud added, “I understand that it’s really unbearable for a community, the Jewish one, to live under the protection …. and secondly, again, we can’t protect everybody.”