Bibi to Europe’s Jews: “Get the hell out!”

Netanyahu should not be scaring Europe's Jews into aliyah, but he isn't the one we should be blaming

It’s been a tough several weeks for Israel’s prime minister—the “Bibi-sitter”-in-chief, Benjamin Netanyahu.

While America debates whether he broke with diplomatic protocol by accepting an invitation to speak before Congress without President Obama’s blessing, European leaders are upset with the prime minister for an altogether separate breach in diplomacy: acting as a pitchman encouraging European Jews to flee for their lives and decamp to Israel.

Aside from whatever campaign advantage Netanyahu might obtain from such special pleading, his fellow statesmen charge that he’s exploiting the recent wave of terrorist murders in Belgium, France and Denmark—and the rising tide of anti-Semitic violence all throughout the continent—by deliberately tampering with the citizens of other nations, preying on the fears of European Jewry and strategically dangling before them promises of a safer future.

The prime minister openly declared: “I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: Israel is the home of every Jew.”

Talk about hitting below the belt. What next: A fiddler on a roof leading a procession of traumatized Jews south to Cyprus, suitcases gripped in trembling hands, all in reenactment of the Exodus—not the original out of Egypt, but rather the one made famous by Leon Uris? Is it dignified for a prime minister to behave like a carnival barker with a bunker mentality: “Come get your life vests and flak jackets! Say hello to the Golani Brigade!”

It’s impossible to deny that the situation for the Jews of Europe is grave. The proper solution, his critics say, is to implore European governments to protect its Jewish citizens, not to spread fear and foment an insurrection.

Is Netanyahu a scaremonger, or a new Moses with advertizing skills straight out of “Mad Men”?

Operating with a poor memory and lulled by centuries of western “civilization,” Europe sometimes forgets itself. The continent should be beset with collective shame over yet another era of Jewish hatred. Such far-flung establishments as a Jewish school in Toulouse, a Belgian museum, a Parisian kosher grocery, and a Danish synagogue (while a bat mitzvah was underway inside) were the crime scenes of murder against Jews. A Jewish radio station in Denmark was asked to stop broadcasting. A Swedish mayor and a public radio host both proclaimed that Jews were to blame for their own persecution. A French synagogue was encircled by a taunting mob. A journalist dressed as an Orthodox Jew walked the suburbs of Paris and was immediately pelted with insults, spit and eggs.

In order to co-exist in Europe, Jews must not announce themselves as Jews—fully stripped of their yarmulkes, Stars of David, and any symbols of cultural marking. A nose job is no longer a cosmetic enhancement. In Europe it may soon become a life saving medical procedure.

All this a mere seventy years after the liberation of the death camps, as if Europe is setting the stage for Auschwitz’s second act?

Netanyahu isn’t the one spreading fear. The echoes of the 1930s are resounding and resurgent. The continent is blanketed with terror. In capitulating to multi-cultural tolerance, Europe is overrun with angry, disaffected Muslims magnetized by radical Islam and its ancient enmity toward Jews. And this has emboldened, if not awoken Christian anti-Semitism lying dormant for decades. European Jewry may soon have nowhere else to run but Israel. Bibi isn’t to blame; European leaders allowed this to happen.

It isn’t Netanyahu’s job to coax, if not plead with his fellow prime ministers to do a better job in protecting their Jewish citizens. Nor should he have to teach them how to defend themselves against terror—although lord knows they could use the assistance.

It is his job, however, his sworn obligation, in fact, to remind European Jewry—and the rest of the world—why Israel was created and why the urgency of its existence is perfectly demonstrated by the moral chaos presently taking place on the European continent.

When confronted with murderous forces intent on their destruction, Jews now have an option. They have a safe-haven destination—without quotas or xenophobic barriers. Had Israel existed between 1933-1945, there would still have been a madman with a mustache in Berlin, but his genocidal aims and “Final Solutions” would have been directed against another people. Most European Jews would have availed themselves of a head start in planting citrus trees and blooming the deserts of Israel.

Yes, it is not untrue, as Denmark’s chief rabbi has remarked, that Jews should make aliyah only out of a Zionist impulse, and a desire to be buried in the Holy Land. The problem is that they might have to be buried earlier than expected if they remain in Denmark. Danish Jews, and their European counterparts, may not have the luxury of moving to Israel on their own terms.

Moses’ catchphrase from the first Exodus was: “Let my people go!” In still pissing off pharaohs (albeit democratically elected and more benign ones), Netanyahu is warning today’s Jews: “Get the hell out!”

About the Author
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist and Distinguished Fellow at NYU School of Law where he directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society (FOLCS). He is the author, most recently, of the novel, "How Sweet It Is!" His forthcoming nonfiction book is titled, "The High Cost of Free Speech: Rethinking the First Amendment."
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