Sunday, October 8, 2017

France medical brain drain: why are so many doctors leaving for Israel?

Via The Jerusalem Post:
Michel Alimi says he was shopping at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket just a couple of hours before  an Islamist struck on January 9, 2015, shooting four Jews dead and holding 16 hostage before being killed by French police. Now, he, his wife and one of his daughters are moving to Israel.

The 62-year-old general practitioner says the attack, coming after other bloody instances of anti-Jewish violence by French Muslims, has sparked a wave of departures to Israel, including about 50 families from his own neighborhood of Saint-Mandé, on the edge of Paris. (...)

But it’s not just the dangers of Paris life that have motivated hundreds of Jewish medical professionals to join thousands of other French Jews in moving to Israel. It’s also a slew of recent rule changes by Israeli authorities that will make the transition easier for people like him and daughter Aurelia, a 33-year-old pediatrician who specializes in pediatric oncology, who are preparing, or considering, aliya, according to Israeli officials in France and Israel.

France is recognized as having among the highest standards of medical care in the world, and there are thousands of Jewish doctors there, including many who have held prominent positions. André Lichwitz was Charles de Gaulle’s personal physician and Prof. Pierre Aboulker performed the French president’s prostate operation.

Dr. José Aboulker, a relative of Pierre, was a World War II hero who infiltrated Nazi occupied France as a secret agent and later headed the emergency medical unit that followed de Gaulle when he was targeted for assassination. (...)

Yet, immigration by French-trained medical professionals to Israel has long been problematic because of difficulties in getting their credentials recognized. Many French Jewish doctors have long alleged that the hurdles were placed by organizations of Israeli doctors to discourage competition.

Israeli officials say this is no longer a problem.

Ariel Kandel, former head of the Jewish Agency in France, is now director general of Qualita, a Jerusalem-based group aimed at smoothing the arrival in Israel for French Jews. (...)

Official Israeli figures show that 1,166 French medical professionals have made aliya since 2012. Among them are 340 doctors, as well as dentists, pharmacists, optometrists and other medical and paramedical specialists. The only countries from which more medical professionals arrived during the same period were Russia with 1,776 and strife-torn Ukraine with 1,186. By comparison, the United States, which has the Diaspora’s largest community, contributed 668 medical professionals. 
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