Murderous attacks on Jews in Europe because they are Jews are likely to continue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, calling for the continent’s Jews to immigrate to Israel.
Netanyahu’s comments, according to government officials, are based on Jerusalem’s assessment that the current wave of Islamic anti-Semitic violence is not on the wane, and is going to get worse.
“Extremist Islamic terrorism has struck Europe again, this time in Denmark,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting. “We send our condolences to the Danish people and to the Jewish community in Denmark.
Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews, and this wave of terrorist attacks – including murderous anti-Semitic attacks – is expected to continue.”
Netanyahu’s comments came following the terrorist attack on a Copenhagen synagogue that killed Dan Uzan, who was serving as a volunteer guard. That attack followed by a few hours another at a cafe hosting a free speech event with Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who has been threatened for depicting the head of the Prophet Muhammad on a dog.
One man was killed in that attack.
As he did following the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, Netanyahu carefully coupled statements that Israel is the home of every Jew with saying that Jews have the right to live safely anywhere in the world.
“Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country,” he said. “But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: Israel is the home of every Jew.”
In a pre-planned move, a NIS 180 million plan was submitted to the cabinet to encourage absorption of immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine.
“We will submit additional plans later,” Netanyahu said. “To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world, I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”
That is not a message, however, that found favor with all Denmark’s Jews, with Copenhagen’s Chief Rabbi Yair Melchior being quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying he was disappointed by the comments.
“Terror is not a reason to move to Israel,” he said.
In an interview with Reuters, Melchior rejected the idea that Jews should leave Denmark.
“The terrorists must not control our lives,” he said. “We need to concentrate on living our lives as normally as possible after this difficult situation. The Jewish community in Copenhagen is strong.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called his Danish counterpart, Martin Lidegaard, and said that Israel appreciated Denmark’s cooperation in guarding Israeli and Jewish sites in the country, and that Israel is prepared to deepen its cooperation on that matter.
Earlier in the day, Liberman issued a statement saying that the events in Copenhagen proved what he has been saying for years, that Israel and the Jews are the first targets of these attacks because they are at the front of the war the terrorists are waging against the West and the free world.
The West, he added, needed not to suffice with politically correct statements and rallies, but rather wage an all out war against Islamic terrorism and its roots.
Meanwhile, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog also spoke to Lidegaard, relaying his condolences as well.
“All Western countries must fight terrorism without mercy and prevent these horrible incidents from repeating themselves,” he stated. “The nation of Israel, which knows the pain of the families and the community from experience, stands with the Danish people and strengthens them in these tough times.”
Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to the heads of the Danish Jewish community Sunday morning, telling them, “we will not agree to get used to a situation in which people simply shoot at Jews on the streets of Europe.”
“The streets cannot turn into an anti-Semitic shooting range,” he said. “The whole State of Israel stands with you at this difficult time and is ready to help.”
Meanwhile, the founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel and head of its Southern Branch, Sheikh Abdullah Nimar Darwish, condemned the terrorist attacks in Denmark along with Chief Rabbi of Norway Michael Melchior, who is a former MK and minister with the centrist Meimad faction.
Darwish, who heads the Adham Center for Interfaith Dialogue, and Melchior, who now heads the The Mosaica Center for Interreligious Cooperation, issued a joint statement on Sunday in which they “condemned and repudiated the criminal murder in the Jewish community in Denmark.”
The two religious leaders emphasized that “although these murderers claim they are acting in the name of religion they are the enemies of Islam, the enemies of humanity, enemies of faith and the enemies of all human and Godly goodness.”
Lahav Harkov and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.