Netanyahu Calls on French Jews: Come Home to Israel

January 10, 2015  

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has led calls in Israel for French Jews to “come home to Israel” Saturday, after 17 people were killed in France during three days of Islamist attacks.

“To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home,” he said in a televised statement, referring to the Jewish practice of facing Jerusalem during prayer.

“Unless the world comes to its senses, terror will continue to strike in other places,” he added in remarks on his official Twitter account. 

Four of the fatalities occurred during an attack on a Jewish supermarket.  

Media said he had ordered a ministerial committee to convene next week to discuss ways to encourage immigration of French and other European Jews to Israel. They said Netanyahu had considered attending Sunday’s mass rally in Paris but was obliged to drop the idea due to security concerns.  

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will represent Israel instead.

Liberman met Saturday evening with Israeli ministry and security officials to discuss repercussions of the attacks.

“The meeting discussed strengthening ties with the heads of the Jewish community in France and the security of the various institutions of the Jewish community there,” ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

Meanwhile, MKs have been similarly responding the attack by calling on Jews in France to make aliyah.

Yoni Chetboun (Yachad – Ha’am Itanu) called on the government to make urgent preparations for an emergency mass-aliyah of French Jews – something he said the country was not currently prepared for.

“Israel is not ready right now to absorb masses of Jews from France,” said Chetboun, who chairs the Knesset Caucus for Olim from France.

“Due to the impossible security situation [for French Jews], Israel has a responsibility to allocate all necessary resources to facilitate the aliyah and absorption of Jews from France.”

Chetboun, whose family hail from France themselves, was notified just before Shabbat that one of his cousins was among scores of Jews trapped inside the Paris store after terrorist Amedy Coulibaly stormed in on Friday afternoon.

Other MKs have also called on French Jews to leave for Israel.

On Friday Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) made a public plea at a Jewish Home party rally in Ramat Gan.

“Your place, Jews of France, is with us,” in Israel, he said. 

His fellow Jewish Home MK Motti Yogev, reacted similarly Saturday night.

“We are all shocked at the recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France,” said Yogev. “To all our Jewish brothers in France we call: Come and make Aliyah to Israel! Here is your home – our home.”

Yogev continued by calling on “the French government and President Hollande” to recognize “who you are dealing with – Islamic terrorism.”

French aliyah to Israel reached an all-time high in 2014, with some 7,000 making the move. Even prior to last week’s events in France, the Jewish Agency was predicting a further 10,000 in 2015 – and that prediction could yet rise in the aftermath of Friday’s attack.

Meanwhile, plans are underway for a mass-solidarity rally in Tel Aviv. More details of that to follow.

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