Former ambassador to the US Michael Oren.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ANNE MANDLEBAUM)
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) has called for Israel to prepare “the warmest invitation” for British Jews to make aliyah, including various state-backed incentives, should UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn win a general election and become prime minister.
Oren described Corbyn as being extremely hostile to Israel, and said that his election would create an even worse atmosphere in the UK for Britain’s 270,000 Jews.
Should Corbyn be elected, said Oren, Israel should reach out to the UK Jewish community and make aliyah to the Jewish state as easy as possible, while drawing up a detailed plan to prepare for any mass immigration from Britain. A poll conducted for the UK’s Jewish Chronicle last month showed that 40 percent of British Jews would consider emigrating should Corbyn become prime minister.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Oren said that Israel missed an opportunity to bring more French Jews to the country from 2015 onwards, when terror attacks directed at the Jewish community and increasing antisemitism in France led tens of thousands to leave.
While many did come to Israel, many thousand also went to the UK and Canada, particularly the French-speaking province of Quebec.
In an op-ed in Israel Hayom published on Thursday, Oren noted that in 2015 then Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky together with the head of the World Zionist Organization and aliya groups drew up a detailed document stipulating what measures would be required to attract 50,000 French Jews to Israel.
The plan was shelved however and never implemented, and since 2015, only approximately 15,000 Jews have made aliyah.
Oren said that it would be possible to bring “tens of thousands” of British Jews to Israel if Corbyn were elected, and that the same mistakes made with the French Jewish community should not be made again in such an eventuality.
He added however that Israel’s message should not be to actively call for mass aliyah to Israel from the UK.
“My position on France in 2015 was that the French government has the duty to defend all of its citizens irrespective of their religion, and that French Jews have as much a right to live in France as anyone else,” said Oren.
“It wasn’t that all French Jews should pick up and leave. I don’t think that should be our message to British Jews either,” he continued.
“But we can extend the warmest invitation to British Jews, [and say] if they chose to be part of the Zionist enterprise, ‘this is what we can offer you’.”
Oren said that a similar plan to that drawn up for French Jews should be drafted for potential mass British aliyah, and that incentives such as benefits for education and housing could be included, or a general financial grant given to such immigrants.
He also noted that a key concern for French Jews had been the requirement of professionals, made of all immigrants, to pass professional exams in the fields of law, medicine and accountancy in order to be licensed to practice their profession in Israel, and said that this policy should be changed to accommodate British immigrants.
The deputy-minister said that Corbyn as the UK prime minister would be very bad for the Jewish community
there and create “a very difficult atmosphere.”
“I cannot imagine that with the kind of license given to extreme anti-Zionists and antisemites that Corbyn and the Labor Party have given it would be comfortable for British Jews,” he said.
He also took Labour to task for having discussed at length the Israel-Palestinian conflict during its conference last month, where it also passed an arms embargo resolution against Israel, while having failed to discuss or act on more acute conflicts and humanitarian issues such as the Syrian civil war, the war in Yemen and alleged war crimes in Myanmar.
“That’s telling you and auguring a very difficult future for British Jews. We have to come out unequivocally and say that if you [British Jews] don’t want to continue living in the UK, then we want you. This is your ancestral homeland, and we will take the steps necessary to ensure that your aliyah is successful.”