Standing Their Ground: Not The Time For Emigration
By Jacob Wasserman
Amid the recent rise of anti-Semitic violence in Europe, it is my opinion that European Jews should stay put and not immigrate to Israel. While it is comforting to know that Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcome Europe’s Jews with open arms, fleeing in the midst of violence would be accepting a forced exodus, which Jews cannot afford to do.
Moving to Israel itself would not be a defeat, as many Jews feel strong ties to the country. The defeat would be fleeing their current residences because they were kicked out, and not because they chose to go. Most European Jews, ones who feel content in their current homes, should only consider moving to Israel if they are in dire straits; if violence in their home country is so severe, similar to conditions before World War II, then they should not remain. For this reason, I believe Israel is a necessity for Jews. It need not be the primary home of all Jews, but a safe haven for them in case anything catastrophic were to happen. Right now, it is shameful to see violent acts occurring not only against Jews, but also against western values in general. It is unfortunate, but the violence is not strong enough to force a population into leaving.
If Jews were to accept what is happening and leave Europe, it would show signs of weakness and vulnerability. It would prove a victory for anti-Semites and encourage violence where it has not been as prevalent, such as in the United States. Anti-Semitic and anti-western acts would likely gain traction after seeing its effects on Europe’s Jewish population.
Anti-Semitism puts small Jewish populations all around the world at risk. If they become significantly more concentrated, as they would if all of Europe’s Jews emigrated to Israel, the level of risk in various regions would likely change. Isolated violent attacks, such as the recent murders at a Jewish deli and a Bat-Mitzvah in Europe, could become less prevalent. If all of Europe’s Jews left, a majority of the Jewish population would be in Israel, which could strengthen the leverage of Israel’s anti-Zionist neighbors in the future. A mass emigration out of Europe would be dangerous for Jews around the world, and even western values in general; Jews should fight anti-Semitism at home and stand their ground.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Campaign Strategy
By Stephanie Lipper
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the immigration of European Jews to Israel earlier this month, following a shooting at a synagogue in Copenhagen. While there is much logistical impracticality of European Jews migrating en masse to Israel, the real area of interest lies in Netanyahu’s intention behind this statement. Although it may appear that he is simply acting as a symbol of unity for the Jewish community of the world, his underlying message is much less altruistic. The timing of this statement is in no way an accident as March 17, the date of the Knesset election, quickly approaches. It seems Netanyahu has taken this opportunity to politicize these tragedies for his campaign’s benefit.
Through his career and especially during this
campaign, he has portrayed himself as a strong leader who is especially competent with national security issues. He has a history of extensive military experience to strengthen this claim. After a series of attacks targeting Jews in Europe, the most recent of which was the shooting in Copenhagen, Netanyahu had an opportunity to assert this image one more time before the election.
By offering Israel as a safe haven for Jews who feel persecuted or endangered elsewhere, he implies that Israel is safer than Western Europe. This shows his confidence in the nation’s security despite its location in such a tumultuous region. If this claim is accepted as true, then this means that Israel has reached this level of safety under his leadership, and perhaps because of his leadership. By emphasizing the idea of Israel as a safe haven, Netanyahu is, in effect, praising his own leadership. He is taking a series of tragedies and transforming them into a source of political capital to fuel the final weeks of his campaign.