Should Jews Flee Europe to Israel?

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s appeal to European Jews to seek refuge in Israel has offended many leaders in Europe who reject the charge that recent cases of violent anti-Semitism justify such a drastic step. Netanyahu’s call also smacks of political opportunism, says Professor Alon Ben-Meir.

By Alon Ben-Meir

The killing of a security guard at a synagogue in Copenhagen over two weeks ago has renewed Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for mass immigration of European Jews to Israel. Although he has made such impetuous appeals before, he now makes a new brazen claim that as Prime Minister of Israel, he represents and can speak on behalf of world Jewry.

This delusionary claim is an insult to European governments and the nearly 1.5 million Jews who live, work, and flourish in Europe. The irony is that Netanyahu represents neither the Jews around the world nor even the majority of Israeli Jews, other than the fraction who voted for Likud in the previous election.

A section of the barrier -- erected by Israeli officials to prevent the passage of Palestinians -- with graffiti using President John F. Kennedy's famous quote when facing the Berlin Wall, "Ich bin ein Berliner." (Photo credit: Marc Venezia)

A section of the barrier — erected by Israeli officials to prevent the passage of Palestinians — with graffiti using President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote when facing the Berlin Wall, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” (Photo credit: Marc Venezia)

Nevertheless, he seized the opportunity to usurp the political debate in Israel leading up to the election, irrespective of how harmful it may be to the very people he presumably wants to shield, merely because he believes it serves his interests.

Although Israel represents a sanctuary where any Jew is welcome, not a single non-Israeli Jew living outside Israel has appointed Netanyahu to be their spokesperson or protector. No honest observer can deny that the upsurge of violent attacks against Jews is connected to the rise of anti-Semitism, which has not occurred in a vacuum.

It is a direct result of growing anti-Israeli sentiment due to Netanyahu’s misguided policies toward the Palestinians and the continuing occupation. Netanyahu’s call for European Jews to immigrate to Israel, live in “safety,” and not be subjected to terrorism was met with indignation by many Jewish leaders, including the Chief Rabbi of ‪‎Denmark, who said “If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.”

Western European leaders have also taken great offense. Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt remarked that “[Jews] belong in Denmark. They’re part of the Danish community and we wouldn’t be the same without the Jewish community,” which echoed what the French Prime Minister said following January’s terror attacks in ‪‎Paris on a Jewish supermarket.

Notwithstanding the Jewish Diaspora’s affinity for Israel, they are loyal citizens of their respective countries, and Netanyahu’s illusion that bringing Jews to Israel will guarantee their security is only surpassed by his craven arrogance. His call for mass immigration alienates Diaspora Jews and may put them at even greater risk. Eighty times more Israelis were killed in Israel by violence with the Palestinians in the past 25 years than all the Jews killed in Europe by terrorists during the same period.

There is no doubt that Netanyahu’s call for Jews to immigrate to Israel is also driven by his strong desire to increase the Jewish population in Israel and sustain the Jewish national identity of the state. This also explains his demand that as a prerequisite to reaching a peace agreement, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

Here is where Netanyahu’s hypocrisy is on full display. Indeed, if he wishes to shield the Jews from acts of terrorism and encourage them to immigrate to sustain a Jewish majority in Israel, he should first focus on addressing the causes behind the rise of violent attacks by vigorously attempting to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I maintain that once a peace agreement with the Palestinians is reached, many Jews would immigrate to Israel without any prompting. They would be willing to build a new life in Israel not because they will necessarily feel safer there, but because peace would rekindle the pioneering spirit which was behind the mass immigration to Israel in years past, regardless of the uncertainty and the prospect of violence.

Sadly, Israel is no longer arousing that spirit, especially in young European and American Jews, because of the continuing conflict which has sapped it, leaving a void that cannot be filled with empty political slogans.

Netanyahu should wake up to the gloomy reality that nearly one million Israelis emigrated from Israel in the past 25 years. Many of them have left not only because they have become weary of endless violent conflict, but also because they feel betrayed by self-indulgent political leaders.

With only a few exceptions, Israel has been plagued with leaders who are no longer true to the vision behind the creation of Israel. As a result, many Jews have little hope that the political environment will change any time soon, unless new leaders emerge who are committed to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Not surprisingly, many Israelis who emigrated see no reason why they should return, only to see their children be inducted to a military that has become the oppressor rather than the proud guardian of a free, independent and prosperous country at peace with itself and with the people that co-inhabit the land. This, of course, doesn’t trouble Netanyahu.

For him, this is a do-or-die political campaign. He will do and say anything to remain the focus of public discourse, even by exploiting the sensitive issues of anti-Semitism, violent extremism against the Jews, and Iran’s nuclear threat.

He already crossed a major red line by accepting the invitation to address a joint session of Congress to the dismay of many Congressmen and Jewish leaders in and outside Israel, as well as a majority of the American public, while showing complete disrespect to President Barack Obama, and more importantly to the Executive Office of the President.

He is determined to project an image of a courageous leader and the champion of Jewish causes, when in fact he has no courage but raw boldness befitting a politician who would sell his soul to the highest bidder. Consequently, he brought Israel’s indispensable relations with the U.S. to a state of crisis, infuriated European leaders, embarrassed Jews everywhere, and further isolated Israel.

The Israeli electorate, who will soon cast their vote, will do well to remember that they must now seek a new horizon and send a loud and clear message to Netanyahu: enough is enough.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

20 comments for “Should Jews Flee Europe to Israel?

  1. Tomer
    February 27, 2015 at 12:57

    The nasty comments of Peter Loeb, Abe and Zachary just prove the real need for a homeland for the Jewish people.

    I would like to add that the European economy is in a bad state due to the overhang of massive debts that have accumulated over the years by various governments. As economic conditions worsen, I wonder who will “blamed” for the unemployment, deflation, bank runs, crime and ensuing chaos? Historically, one ethnic group has been scapegoated. I suspect that Netanyahu understands these trends and is telling European Jews to get out now.

    • Zachary Smith
      February 28, 2015 at 00:06

      The nasty comments of Peter Loeb, Abe and Zachary just prove the real need for a homeland for the Jewish people.

      Speaking harshly of murderous thieves proves WHAT?

      By the way, where do you stand on the non-stop land theft from and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians?

    • Zachary Smith
      February 28, 2015 at 01:30

      Since I didn’t say anything much on this thread, I’m going to assume that the poster Tomer got his knickers in a wad about a remark I made on the Gaza thread:

      The problem of non-Israeli Jews around the world is that they’re being tarred by association. The unspeakably nasty “beasts walking on two legs” who advocate “stealing-the-land” and “murdering the inhabitants” are the ones causing the trouble. That breed is properly labeled “Zionist”. Sad to say, Israel has been a magnet for that type, just as ISIS has attracted the insane fringe-elements of Islam.

      That beast on two legs business was a phrase with origins in a speech by a noted terrorist – a gentleman who really ought to know terrorism when he sees it because he was an honest-to-God terrorist himself.

      From that link:

      We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.

      But, here there are Katyushas, missiles and artillery shells day and night, with the sole intention of murdering our women and children. There are military targets in the Galilee.

      Change “Katyushas” to “IAF F-16s” and we have quite a good approximation of the murder spree in Gaza last year.

      Children-murdering swine are “beasts walking on two legs” whether they pray at a Mosque or a Synagogue.

      With the water and land thieving and the non-stop harassment and abuse, the Zionists inhabiting Israel have a lot to answer for.

      Any European Jew who moves to Israel will be voluntarily joining the ongoing & violent crusade against the Palestinians. They’ll either be wannabe terrorists and bullies themselves, or too stupid to understand what they’re getting into.

    • a human being
      March 1, 2015 at 11:45

      a homeland for jewish people, built from jewish terrorists killing british soldiers and other innocent people, no real difference from the modern day terrorist still killing innocent people .

  2. Peter Loeb
    February 27, 2015 at 08:21


    This article by Alon Ben-Meir is a soft-spoken, delicately- wrapped insult to the Palestinian
    People. In an early paragraph it states almost casually that ” …Israel represents a sanctuary
    where any Jew is welcome…”

    This is, to be blunt but accurate, an outrage.

    Palestine is a place where all Palestinians are welcome and are treated equally with those
    of other faiths in every respect. It cannot ever be a place where Palestinians are massacred,
    forced to flee their homes, raped, have their communities destroyed and demolished, be
    made subject to Israeli Military Law (terrorist) laws, have their towns rebuilt by Israeli’s for
    Jews-only and on and on.

    Jews–or any other group defined either by type of belief —Zionist—or by any other means
    should never be “welcome” for such purposes in Palestine as residents. (Many nations desire
    very temporary visitors. That is for the nation to decide.)

    The Zionist model viz “Jews are a race defined with inherited entitlements” was appropriated
    from pan-Germanism. Theodor Herzl was himself an fan of pan-Germanism. In this model
    a race or group is defined with special rights and privileges etc. All those who do not belong
    to this group lack rights. The Germans’ group was “the Aryan Race”. Jews and others were
    excluded. In the Zionist reconstruction, Zionists (whom you are to believe are identical
    with “Jews”) are in. They are always, always, always the entitled group. To land. To jobs.
    To water. To homes. To rule. All others are denied these rights. (Within pan-Germanism
    the “Final Solution” is not necessarily an integral part. The origins of the Final Solution
    are elsewhere such as in the writings of HOUSTON STEWART CHAMBERLAIN and elsewhere

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA.

    • Abe
      February 27, 2015 at 12:44

      Herzl insisted that the Zionist plan to expropriate land in Palestine by deceit and force of arms was “the solution to the Jewish Question. Not a a solution, but the solution, the only one. […] The only possible, final, and successful solution of the Jewish Question”.

      Like Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Theodor Herzl and other leaders of the Zionist Movement were avid racialists.

      Herzl and Nordau believed in Jewish supremacy over the “Asiatic” inhabitants of their once and future Homeland.

      Anticipating the violence that would ensue from the Zionist quest for Lebensraum, Herzl prophesied that “the Asiatic problem grows from day to day more serious, and wall, I fear, for some time be deeply tinged with blood. It is thus of increasing importance to the nations of civilization that on the road to Asia—the shortest road to Asia—there should be set up a post of civilization, which would be at the service of civilized mankind. This post is Palestine, and we are those who are ready with our blood and our substance to provide this post for civilization.”

      Such racialist rhetoric is pervasive in Israeli society to this day.

      • Peter Loeb
        February 27, 2015 at 17:06

        tTo Abe:

        Being “racist” is not synonimous with a belief in The Final Solution which means the
        liquidation of defined groups.

        Zionism was quietly predicated on the elimination of Palestinians (indiginous). It
        is today involved in the liquidation/elimination/extermination of Palestinians. This is not a result of racism alone.

        A belief in one’s own supremacy is a major factor. Such beliefs are also involved in
        many other kinds of conquest such as the USA and West’s belief that their civilization and values are by definition superior. (eg in Ukraine).

        It profits little to maintain that since A and B are both racists, or because racism is
        part and parcel of another behavior (such as slaveholding, torture etc), that therefore
        they are one and the same.

        I am not certain why Israel and Saudi Arabia support the ISIS militants including
        their openly terrorist affiliations with al quaeda. The ISIS militants celebrate the
        support they receive from Israel. On this, I have few answers. The question is not much
        discussed in public debate.

        —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

        Racism can take many forms and has done so throughout thousands of years.

        —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Abe
        February 27, 2015 at 22:41

        Similarity is not identity, Peter, true enough. But neither should we ignore the links and parallels.

  3. Abe
    February 26, 2015 at 19:43

    “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”
    Theodor Herzl, The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl. Vol. 1, edited by Raphael Patai, translated by Harry Zohn, New York: Herzl Press and T. Yoseloff (1960), pg 84.

    According to the Israeli Historian Benny Morris, “Herzl recognized that anti-Semitism would be harnessed to his own Zionist-purposes.”
    Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist–Arab Conflict, 1881–1999. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (2001), pg. 21.

    Today we observe how miraculously convenient, well-timed “anti-Semitic” terror incidents provide political support for Israeli government actions, and all criticism of Israel is automatically labeled as “anti-Semitic”.

  4. Abe
    February 26, 2015 at 14:57

    The zealous Israeli efforts to convince Jews to “make Aliyah” parallel the Heim ins Reich (German; “Home into the Empire” or “Back to the Reich”) policy pursued by Adolf Hitler.

    A less literal translation of Heim ins Reich might be “Return to the Nation”.

    The policy was managed by VOMI (Hauptamt Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle or “Main Welfare Office for Ethnic Germans”). As a state agency of the NSDAP, it handled all Volksdeutsch issues. By 1941, the VOMI was under the control of the SS.

    The aim of the Heim ins Reich policy was to convince all of the ethnically German people who were living outside of the Third Reich (e.g. in Austria and the western districts of Poland) that they should strive to bring these regions “home” into Greater Germany. It included areas ceded after the Treaty of Versailles, as well as other areas containing significant German populations such as the Sudetenland.

    As part of an effort to lure ethnic Germans back to Germany, folksy Heimatbriefe or “letters from the homeland” were sent to German immigrants to the United States. The reaction to these was on the whole negative, particularly as they picked up.

    Concurrent with the Heim ins Reich policy were efforts to ethnically cleanse non-Germans both from Germany and from the areas intended to be part of a “Greater Germany”.

    Heim ins Reich propaganda frequently referred to former territories of the Holy Roman Empire.

    Propaganda was directed to Germans outside the Third Reich, to return as regions, or as individuals from other regions. Hitler hoped to make full use of the “German Diaspora.”

    The policy for German Expansion was planned in Generalplan Ost to continue further eastwards into Poland, the Baltic states and the Soviet Union, thus creating a Greater Germany from the North Sea to the Urals.

  5. Abe
    February 26, 2015 at 14:34

    Lebensraum (“living space”) was an ideology that proposed the aggressive territorial expansion of Germany and of the German people.

    The ideology was appropriated by German Zionists and has been linked to Israel, both in its actions during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and later to its settlement policies in the Palestinian territories.

    Efraim Eitam, an Israeli government minister under Prime minister Ariel Sharon, explicitly used the concept of Lebensraum as the basis for his arguments that all Israeli Arabs and Palestinians should be persuaded or forced to leave Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

    Originally a biology term for “habitat”, the publicists for the German Empire (1871–1918), introduced Lebensraum as a concept of nationalism that became one of Imperial Germany’s goals in the First World War (1914–1918). In the post-war Weimar Republic (1919–1933) the concept and the term were features of German ultra-nationalism, and later, during the Third Reich (1933–1945),

    Lebensraum, was an ideological element of Nazism, which advocated Germany’s territorial expansion into Eastern Europe, justified by the need for agricultural land in order to maintain the town-and-country balance upon which depended the moral health of the German people.

    To gain and justify Lebensraum, the Nazi ideology presented territorial expansionism as a Natural law, by way of which all healthy and vigorous peoples, of superior races, possessed an inherent right to displace unhealthy and slack people of inferior races; especially when the superior race were facing overpopulation in their native territories.

    In practice, the Nazi policy of Lebensraum was to kill, deport, or enslave the Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and other Slavic populations considered racially inferior to the Germans, and to repopulate said eastern lands with Germanic people.

    The eugenics of Lebensraum implicitly assumed the racial superiority of Germans, because they are an Aryan race; a master race, who, by virtue of their superiority (physical, mental, genetic) had the right to displace any people they deemed to be of an inferior race.

    Sociologically, the Nazis insisted that the Lebensraum lands be developed as racially-homogeneous societies, by avoiding the intermixing of Germans with native peoples of an inferior race. Therefore, in a territory designated as German Lebensraum, the native people, of inferior races, by law, were subject either to expulsion or to destruction by the Nazis.

    The Third Reich invoked precedents — historical, geopolitical, cultural — to legalistically justify the pursuit of Lebensraum beyond the borders of Germany’. One historical example justifying Nazi territorial expansion was Manifest Destiny (1845), which ideologically justified the white colonization, by the United States, of the “American frontier”, the inhabited North-American lands south of Canada and north of Mexico.


    Krämer, Gudrun (2011). A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel. Princeton University Press (22 Feb 2011). p. 322.

    Finkelstein, Norman (1995). Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.

    Kapitan, Tomis (1997). Philosophical Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. M.E. Sharpe. p. 29.

    Yossi Sarid (26 August 2012). “Lebensraum as a justification for Israeli settlements”. Haaretz.

    Bidwell (1998). Dictionary Of Modern Arab History. Routledge. p. 441.
    “The Israeli government began to expropriate more Arab land as Lebensraum for Jewish agricultural rather than strategic settlements and to take water traditionally used by local farmers. A particularly unjust example led to the Land Day Riots of March 1976 but in 1977 Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon stated that there was a long term plan to settle 2 million Jews in the occupied Territories by 2000: this was an ideological pursuit of Greater Israel.”

    El-Din El-Din Haseeb, Khair (2012). The Future of the Arab Nation: Challenges and Options: Volume 2. Routledge. p. 226. ISBN 9781136251856. “In light of Israel’s international relations and its broad regional concept of Lebensraum, it will retain and even improve the degree of its military superiority.”

    Graham, Stephen (2004). Cities, War and Terrorism: Towards an Urban Geopolitics (Studies in Urban and Social Change). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 204.
    “Eitam argues that, ultimately, Israel should strive to force or ‘persuade’ all Arabs and Palestinians to leave Israel and the occupied territories — to be accommodated in Jordan and the Sinai (Egypt)…..Eitam has even explicitly used the German concept of Lebensraum (living space) – a cornerstone of the Holocaust — to − underpin his arguments.”

    • Abe
      February 26, 2015 at 19:04

      “German Zionists” refers to the German-speaking European Jewish leadership of the World Zionist Organization, or WZO, founded as the Zionist Organization at the initiative of Theodor Herzl at the First Zionist Congress, which took place in August 1897 in Basel, Switzerland.

      When it was founded, the goals of the Zionist movement were stated in a resolution that came of that Congress and came to be known as the “Basel Program.”

      “Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a legally assured home in Palestine. For the attainment of this purpose, the Congress considers the following means serviceable:

      (1) the promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturists [farmers], artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine;
      (2) the federation [unified organisation] of all Jews into local or general groups, according to the laws of the various countries;
      (3) the strengthening of the Jewish feeling and consciousness [national sentiment and national consciousness];
      (4) preparatory steps for the attainment of those governmental grants which are necessary to the achievement of the Zionist purpose.”.”

      Max Nordau, a co-founder of the World Zionist Organization together with Herzl, was a staunch eugenicist. In addition to securing living space, eugenics was one of the aims of the Jewish movement for national renewal.

  6. hmp40
    February 26, 2015 at 01:47

    The writer sounds like the delusional Jews of Germany in the early 1930s, when they could not imagine the country of Goethe and Beethoven would listen to that little madman.

    Wake up

    • Tom Sullivan
      March 1, 2015 at 12:23

      I see the GIYUS hasbarats are all over this one like a bad rash.

  7. Pat
    February 25, 2015 at 20:46

    Thank you, Dr. Ben-Meir. It is not possible to overemphasize how many Jews are offended by this loud-mouth bully and understand how he is increasing anti-Semitism in the world and harming the cause of Israel. Just as we need to hear from humane Muslims why the brand of religion of the “Islamic” State is not true Islam, we need to hear humane Jews speak out against Netanyahu’s neocon extremism. Unfortunately, they seem to be under even more pressure than non-Jews to suppress their criticism of Israel. Whereas non-Jews are accused of anti-Semitism, Jews are accused of being self-hating traitors.

    • Ellen
      February 26, 2015 at 07:29

      Jews in Europe are afraid with good reason. Europe is over inundated with Jewish enemies, who will increasingly try to dominate and influence through intimidation the naive non- jewish Europeans. Netanyahu’s offer can only help to increase the European’s accountability to protect the Jewish populations, they say they love so much and let Jews who are feeling the hostility that clearly exists, know they have a place to go, with many benefits: Their Homeland.
      There is no downside to Netanyahu’s offer. just an opportunity for those unable to deal with their frustration that his strength and determination defy the weak and ineffectual Obama’s of the world, as he stands up to his critics and fights terrorism on every side. I am very proud of Netanyahu.

      • Zachary Smith
        February 26, 2015 at 17:08

        Speaking of intimidating and abusing natives, where do you stand on the non-stop kicking around the inhabitants of Israel are giving to the Palestinians?

      • Tom Sullivan
        March 1, 2015 at 12:22

        “Jews in Europe are afraid with good reason. Europe is over inundated with Jewish enemies,”

        I assume you mean Muslims. They would be the same Muslims who are being encouraged to come to Europe as a result of blatantly anti-European “multiculturalist” policies being pushed by the likes of Barbara Lerner Specter, who is, as you no doubt know, Jewish, and who claims that “we Jews will be at the centre of the bringing of multiculturalism to Europe”. Problem, reaction, solution?

  8. Zachary Smith
    February 25, 2015 at 19:52

    instead it takes the opportunity to slide straight through into a continual opinionated attack on Netanyahu which is the sole focus it seems, with very little substance or objective analysis investigating this question from many angles.

    May I suggest you read the essay once again. And if (as I suspect) English isn’t your first language, run the text through Google Translate so as to convert it to Hebrew.

    Replying now to Alon Ben-Meir, it’s something each and every one will have to decide. Prediction: many of the stupid/gullible European Jews will make the shitty little apartheid state on the east end of the Med. their new home. The smarter ones, not so much so.

  9. Ashen
    February 25, 2015 at 19:21

    Couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the mention of “Iran’s nuclear threat.” Considering the complete lack of evidence to support it and the copious evidence that refutes it, can we put this old saw to rest?

  10. Sarrah
    February 25, 2015 at 17:05

    Nowhere does this article actually constructively answer the question of its own headline, ‘should jews flee europe to Israel?’ – instead it takes the opportunity to slide straight through into a continual opinionated attack on Netanyahu which is the sole focus it seems, with very little substance or objective analysis investigating this question from many angles. A very one dimensional let down.

    • Abe
      February 27, 2015 at 01:02

      Ah, yes, the hasbara (הַסְבָּרָה‎) flacks are out in force on this one.

      Thanks Sarrah, Ellen and hmp40 for ‘splainin’ the matter.

      It is crystal clear that not just Europe, but the whole world is not only inundated, but OVER inundated with Jewish enemies.

      Fear not, O Israel. Fearless Leader, who fights terrorism on every side, offers Homeland security in the form of a 5% impregnable Iron Dome and plenty of soon-to-be-vacant real estate. Bring cash.

    • Abe
      February 27, 2015 at 13:25

      I got your objective analysis RIGHT HERE!

      The Hasbara Manual

      This 116 page propaganda strategy manual was marked “Not for distribution or publication”.

      Released soon after “Operation Cast Lead”, the manual comes with some passages written to justify Israeli bombing of the civilian population of Gaza.

      The manual proposes that propagandists go on the offensive, claiming that attacks on the illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory are “anti-Semitic” and amount to “ethnic cleansing”.

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