Jonathan Zausmer
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Jerusalem is no safer than Paris

Challenging the proposition that French Jews will face less danger if they move to Israel

My message to the Jews of France is this: Jerusalem is no safer than Paris. Right now Professors Netanyahu and Liberman are lecturing your government, presenting themselves as authorities on terror. Understand that they are not professors, they are not talking to you but to their potential electorate in Israel and they are neither experts on nor examples of leadership in the face of terror.

Our hearts go out to the people of France and the Jews of Paris who were targeted in a vicious attack by Islamic extremists. Do we wish to see you here in Israel as citizens of the Jewish state? Yes we do, as we wish to see an ingathering of Diaspora Jews from around the world. But know this: you need to do the math. The outrages of terror and war in the last two decades in Israel and the threat of Islamic fundamentalist violence are as present here as in Paris. If you are running away from a situation in a moment of fear for your personal safety and that of your family, take a moment and analyze the data.

The people of Israel have been targeted in terror attacks, suicide bombings and rocket fire on a scale way beyond the recent incidents you now witness in France. More than one thousand citizens of Israel lost their lives during the second intifada. The explosion that rocked the Park Hotel in Netanya, during Passover of 2002 aimed at the unarmed and elderly, killed 28 civilians and wounded 140. Many of the victims were Holocaust survivors.

Know that when you come to Israel, terror will not have ended; that only several weeks ago four Jewish people, who came from other countries to be part of the Jewish state, were murdered during prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue by Islamic fundamentalists who believe in killing Jews and in the destruction of Israel. Know that there are parts of Jerusalem that are unsafe; parts of Jerusalem that stand behind looming concrete barriers; that there are some 300,000 Palestinians who make up the population of Jerusalem, a city of 800,000 people and that the reason for this is that governments of Israel annexed vast areas including Palestinian towns and hamlets that were never part of Jerusalem following the Six Day War. Know that our current government and the Netanyahu-Liberman collaboration wishes to see a continuation of this absurdity, calling any solution “dividing Jerusalem.” Know that parts of Eastern Jerusalem are poverty-stricken, lack education, housing, policing, lighting and that in this discrimination and desperation, extremism flourishes.

Netanyahu and Liberman are not experts in terror. They have been responsible for some of the greatest blunders and misguided policies regarding terror. The Israeli security forces on the other hand are profoundly versed in understanding terror and countering it. This is the work of years of research, action and sacrifice. Unfortunately their work has been undermined by a failed leadership.

In fact, unlike most western nations, the Netanyahu-Liberman government has negotiated directly with terrorists, namely Hamas, using emissaries. One thousand terrorists were set free, many of whom were guilty of premeditated murder spurred by Islamic fundamentalism, in exchange for Gilad Shalit. We all love Gilad. We are happy he is safe. But let’s be clear: Professors Netanyahu and Liberman forfeited any right to lecture on terror. This is the government that chose – indeed initiated — the release of terrorists rather than a settlement freeze as the condition for the negotiations brokered by John Kerry. In other words settlement expansion and augmentation of the greater Israel movement take priority over the basic rule of not releasing terrorists while negotiating peace. The mishandling of the Mavi Marmara also falls on the Netanyahu – Liberman collaboration. Placing armed commandos on a ship of protestors, infuriating as they may have been was an act of stupidity as yet unmatched by Israeli leadership.

So, if you are fleeing France under the threat of an Islamic tsunami, urged by the rhetoric of Netanyahu and Liberman, save yourself the trouble. You are merely replacing one set of threats with another.

If however you wish to be a part of the renaissance of Jewish life, culture and creativity, yet understand that we are a country with threats, with obtuse leadership that has no clear vision for peace; if you can stomach that we are in the midst of a colonial mission that most western countries abandoned decades ago, but by coming here you aim to make a difference, you then have a real chance of avoiding delusion. In making Israel your home and by doing so internalize the fact that we put ourselves and our children at risk yet determine our own fate you shall be at the forefront of perpetuating a Jewish historical process.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.
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