Following the string of terror attacks in Paris last month, many Israeli politicians called for diaspora Jews to immigrate to Israel for their own safety. Knowingly or not, they were misleading at best.
Before going into the heart of the argument, let’s just clarify what these people were asked to do – leave their homes, family and friends, careers and assets in the USA, France, Britain, Germany, Australia, former USSR and elsewhere around the world, and immigrate to a country which according to its own prime minister faces imminent threats ranging from a nuclear annihilation and murderous terror groups on its borders to other terror organizations busy digging tunnels under its villages and kindergardens, and all because of one act of terror that intelligence agencies world wide still can’t tell for sure was directed against Jews to begin with. They must be having a laugh.
On a more serious note, Israel has always had complicated relations with the diaspora. Israel is the land of the Jewish people, by the Jewish people, and for the Jewish people, founded after the greatest genocide attempt in modern history to provide a safe haven for Jews. That is why whenever there is an anti-semitic act anywhere in the world, Israelis see themselves personally as if they were targeted. The second side of this coin is that sometimes non-Jews see diaspora Jews as representatives of the state of Israel and as accountable for its actions.
Israeli politicians and state organizations regard it as normal to organize fundraisers in Jewish communities abroad, and those Jews see it as their obligation to donate. On the other hand, most Israelis feel strongly that diaspora Jews have no say in Israel’s domestic affairs, and diaspora Jews feel they do, given their donations and connection to Israel. Which makes sense given the premise presented to them – donating and investing in Israel is like buying insurance that in case anti-semitism is on the rise, they’ll have a place to go to.
Which brings us to the main point of this article – Israel may have been founded to provide a safe haven for Jews in dire times, but the reality is that since 1948, more Jews died from unnatural causes in Israel than any other country on earth, including the USSR. Over 22,000 Israelis have died in wars and terror attacks committed within Israel’s borders.
Just in the last six months since the end of this summer’s military operation, there have been a handful of terror acts against Israelis – a slaughter of religious Jews in a synagogue in Jerusalem, a stabbing of a soldier at the Tel Aviv central bus station and an attempted stabbing of a handful of bus passengers on their way to work not far from the IDF HQ in central Tel Aviv, to name a few.
And while there were terror attacks abroad against Israeli government officials, athletes, and just tourists, the total number of casualties and events is minimal compared to those within Israeli borders. In 2014 alone, more than 45 Israelis died at war or at a terror attack, compared to less than 5 abroad.
There’s also a point to be made about the cause of attacks against Israelis, Jews and Jewish symbols abroad. According to recent reports by the Anti-Defemation League, there is a rise in anti-semitic attacks in the period following a high profile Israeli military opertaion, be that of the Navy Marmara flotilla incident or assassinations that Israel allegedly had a part in.
This country was founded to be a safe haven for Jews in dire times. But when it’s clear that Israeli governement cannot provide safety for Jews already living in Israel, we need to reconsider if when the time comes Israel is capable of providing it for diaspora Jews. Otherwise, how is safer than any other country in the world?