Sunday

26th Jan 2020

French and German leaders urge Jews to stay in Europe

  • Europe has a Jewish population of around 1.1 million, most of them living in France (Photo: Eric Parker)

French and German leaders have urged Jews to stay in their countries, following a call by Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to emigrate to Israel.

“France is wounded with you and France does not want you to leave. … The place for French Jews is France”, said French prime minister Manuel Valls.

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  • Valls: 'The place for French Jews is France' (Photo: Parti Socialiste)

He said he was “sorry” that Netanyahu called on European Jews to come to Israel.

The country's president, Francois Hollande, added on Monday “Jews have their place in Europe and, in particular, in France”.

Their statements came after a Danish synagogue was one of the targets of a shooting on Sunday and after a few hundred Jewish graves in a north-eastern French town Sarre-Union were vandalised.

The Danish attack saw Netanyahu say: “We say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home.”

Israel is “preparing for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe”, he added, noting that it would be welcome.

Netanyahu’s statement was also countered in Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said “we would like to continue living well together with the Jews who are in Germany today”.

“We are glad and thankful that there is Jewish life in Germany again,” noted Merkel.

Denmark's chief rabbi Jair Melchior for his part said he was “disappointed” by the call, telling journalists “terror is not a reason to move to Israel”.

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

Despite these appeals from government leaders, an increasing number European Jews have been leaving Europe for Israel, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

In 2014, almost 7,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel. The year before, the figure was 3,400. French Jews made up the bulk of the 8,640 western European Jews that moved to Israel last year.

Europe has a Jewish population of around 1,1 million.

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