In wake of Copenhagen attacks, Netanyahu calls on Danish Jews to migrate to Israel

Saturday's deadly attacks in Copenhagen killed two, including a security guard at a synagogue. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is again calling on Jews from around Europe to migrate to Israel.

Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
A man observes a moment of silence at a memorial for the victims of the deadly attacks in front of the synagogue in Krystalgade in Copenhagen, Feb. 15. Police shot dead a gunman on Sunday whose attacks on a Copenhagen synagogue and an event promoting free speech may have been inspired by an attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo last month, authorities said.

Israel is calling its people home.

That’s how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to Saturday’s deadly shooting at a Denmark synagogue, saying that such attacks are likely to continue and that Israel would welcome any European Jews who decide to move there, Reuters reported.

The Copenhagen shooting – an echo of last month’s Paris attacks – occurred first at a café holding a freedom-of-speech event, then at a synagogue. Two were killed, including a Jewish security guard.

“This wave of attacks and the murderous anti-Semitic assaults that are part of it is expected to go on," Mr. Netanyahu said during his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday.

“Jews deserve protection in every country but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters, Israel is your home,” he added. “We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe."

The prime minister’s call comes as his cabinet approved a $46 million budget to finance the growing number of European Jews immigrating into Israel in order to flee violence, political turmoil, and rising anti-Semitism, according to Israeli publication Haaretz.

Jewish immigrants from Ukraine soared from less than 2,000 in 2013 to almost 6,000 in 2014, according to Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, while nearly 7,000 Jews from France alone migrated into Israel in 2014.

Israel’s Law of Return, passed in 1950, gives Jews worldwide the right to settle in Israel. It also comes with a range of financial benefits that include everything from free airport transportation when the immigrant arrives to income tax benefits and rental and mortgage assistance.

In return, Israel ensures itself a growing, skilled population of Jewish nationals. As Bloomberg put it: “With experience in fields ranging from telecommunications to biotech to finance, those people could have an effect not unlike the Protestant Huguenots driven from France in the 16th and 17th centuries, who became an economic engine in the U.S., Canada, and several European countries.”

Following the attacks on Saturday, Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of the Economy, echoed Netanyahu’s call: “Jews can and should have the right to live anywhere,” he told Israeli news site Ynetnews, “but if there are Jews who are concerned about their future, we are certainly waiting for them.”

Not everyone approves of Netanyahu and his government’s approach of using fear as leverage to bring immigrants into Israel. Copenhagen’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, told The Associated Press that he was “disappointed” by the prime minister’s remarks.

“People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism. But not because of terrorism," Mr. Melchior told the AP. "If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.”

This is not the first time Netanyahu encouraged Jews to move to Israel after a violent attack in a foreign country; following January’s deadly shooting at a kosher supermarket in Paris – part of a larger terrorist attack that killed 17 – the prime minister rushed to France to remind the roughly 100,000 French Jews living there that they would have a home in Israel, should they decide to go.

Netanyahu’s actions met with displeasure from the French government and prompted French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to say, “France, without the Jews of France, is no longer France.”

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