Immigration to Israel: The rise of Anti Semitism in Europe (RELS 348)

Not long after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, a gunman opened fire at a synagogue as well as a free speech event in Copenhagen. This tragedy resulted in the death of a synagogue guard and a filmmaker. Concerned over the recent attacks and the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the massive immigration of European Jews to Israel. Josef Federman discusses this message in his article “Netanyahu calls for ‘massive immigration’ of European Jews,” The Globe and Mail, 15 February 2015. The Prime Minister believes that “Israel is the only place where Jews can truly feel safe”. Even with the reevaluation of security in Denmark, Netanyahu believes that the attacks will continue.

One would think of colonial development and the movement of civilians as motivated by trade, glory, or to spread religion. The recent threat towards the security of Jews in Europe is an example of how fear can provoke a colonized or established group to migrate to a cultural homeland, in this case Israel. Evidence of this trend can be found in a British poll that states “A quarter of Jews in Britain have considered leaving the country in the last two years and well over half feel they have no long term future in Europe”1. As a result, the number of Jews residing in France that have immigrated to Israel in 2014 is more than double the number in 2013.

What is causing this increase in anti Semitism? Historically, there were irregular anti- Jewish persecutions. As Robert Irwin puts it in his book For the Lust of Knowing, “…the Jews had been fairly well treated and tolerated in the pre-modern Muslim world. But he also drew attention to the limits of that tolerance and to the occasional anti-Jewish pogroms.”2 In the last two years, attacks against the Jewish people of Europe have frequently appeared on the news. Across Europe, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza continues. It could be argued that as this conflict flares so does anti-Semitist movements in other parts of the world. Below, I have included an article regarding the fighting in Gaza for further reading.

Although there is the trend of Jewish movement towards Israel, there is disagreement as to the reason. The chief rabbi in Copenhagen, Jair Melchior, stated, “If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a desert island”. He believes that the Jews in Denmark leave due to their love of Israel and Zionism and not their fear of terrorism. I would argue against this notion as the rise in immigration to Israel and what sparked the announcement from Netanyahu was the fear of safety. Since the attacks, security has increased around sites like synagogues and Jewish schools. I will end on a quote from the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls regarding Netanyahu’s call: “France, without the Jews of France, is no longer France”.



1 Michael Holden “Most British Jews feel they have no future in Europe: poll” The Globe and Mail, 14 January 2015 (

2 Robert Irwin, For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies (Penguin Books Ltd. 2007), 261.

For Further Reading:

Sabina Zawadzki and Ole Mikkelsen “Gunman in Copenhagen attacks had record of violence, gang activities” The Globe and Mail, 15 February 2015 (

Jon Henley “Antisemitism on rise across Europe ‘in worst ties since the Nazis’” The Guardian, 7 August 2014 (


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