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Netanyahu must understand enough is enough

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Monday, 2 March 2015


The killing of a security guard at a synagogue in Copenhagen over two weeks ago has renewed 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.
 

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.

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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.

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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.

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About the Author

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

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