Labor MK Moshe Mizrahi called on European Jews to flee anti-Semitism and come to Israel on Wednesday during a meeting in with European Jewish leaders in the Knesset on Wednesday.
“The best way to combat anti-Semitism is to be here in Israel,” the lawmaker told a delegation of twenty-three European Jewish leaders brought to Israel by the Israeli-Jewish Congress. “I call everyone abroad if they want to avoid [anti-Semitism] to come here. We will welcome you and hug you and we are one part of one big family.”
Mizrahi added that he hoped that the meeting -which brought the communal representatives together with members of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs, European Forum of the Knesset (EFK) for Strengthening Ties between Israel and Europe and Knesset Caucus for Struggle Against Anti-Semitism- will be “another way to struggle against those tendencies that frighten us [even in israel] when we see what happened abroad.”
European Jewry has “all our support from the Knesset and myself on this important issue and struggle,” he said.
Speaking immediately after Mizrahi, MK Hilik Bar, the chairman of the European Forum of the Knesset, attempted to clarify his colleague’s remarks.
The answer to anti-Semitism, he said, is to “have a strong Israel and it's important for us to have strong Jewish communities” abroad as well, he Bar said.
Bar added that while there is a lot of partisan bickering in the Knesset, on the issue of anti-Semitism there is no opposition.
Speaking to a crowd primarily of North American Jewish leaders last November, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said that in Israel "We typically view the world as a source of aliya and a big fat wallet, and that’s got to change."
At the same event, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky asserted that Israel is seeking to eradicate what he called its “paternalistic approach,” in which Israelis “felt that we are saving world Jewry by giving them the opportunity to make aliya.”
A more collaborative modus operandi that legitimizes the existence of Diaspora communities is necessary to bolster Jewish identity abroad and, eventually, lead to aliya, he said.
In response to Mizrahi's remarks, IJC CEO Michel Gourary said that while one of the best ways to "reinforce Israel" is indeed aliya but that everybody knows that "not all the Jews are coming." "We must also reinforce and consolidate Jewish communities abroad and the IJC is willing to be the bridge between Israel and the Diaspora and to show we have Israelis who are concerned by the Jewish people in the Diaspora."
Knesset members including opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Elazar Stern and Shimon Ohayon, all expressed support for their coreligionists in Europe and reiterated Israel's commitment to combating anti-Semitism.
While the tone of the meeting was friendly overall, several delegates were visibly upset when MK Merav Michaeli linked anti-Semitism and the Israeli-Arab conflict.
While “racism is racism,” she said, not ending the conflict with the Palestinians “gives an excuse” to those who hold anti-Jewish views and while Israel “maintains” the conflict “we allow the maintenance of anti-Semitism.”
It makes it difficult for Israel to take its place as “part of the modern, liberal family of states,” she added.
In response, Gourary told the Post that the purpose of the meeting was to “express solidarity with Jewish communities and not to involve them in the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is an internal Israeli issue.”