Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited Jews in France and the rest of Europe to come to Israel to escape what he described as a “rising tide of anti-Semitism.”
“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,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement on Saturday.
His comments came as thousands started to rally in France in a show of solidarity after last week’s terrorist attacks at a Jewish deli and the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which left a total of 17 people dead.
Netanyahu called on legislators in Israel to amend immigration laws to make it easier for Jews to permanently move to the country.
“This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism,” Netanyahu said.
“All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon echoed Netanyahu’s claim that Jews are increasingly unwelcome in Europe.
“The Jewish community, not just in France, [also in] Belgium and other places, Sweden, is under attack, a combined Islamist, anti-Semitic attack,” Ya’alon said. “We knew that if [radical] Islam raised its head in Europe, the Jews would be the first to be harmed. The safest place for Jews is in the national home of Jews.”
Despite these comments from Israeli politicians, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged France’s Jews not to emigrate from the country.
“If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore,” Valls said.”But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”