Benjamin Netanyahu’s message for the Jews of Europe to return to Israel is unnerving for Jews around the world. As South African Jews we have become fairly used to our ex South African counterparts in Israel and Australia, in Canada and England reminding us that they have electricity when we do not, and keeping us informed of the latest car-jacking when it might have slipped right past us whilst weren’t paying attention. They thankfully have Facebook to warn us of the latest scams being perpetrated by criminals throwing eggs on windscreens and of children asking to be taken home only so that you might be gang raped in the living room (this morning’s newsfeed).
But it is very different when the Prime Minister of Israel tells you enough is enough and that you need to come home. And although he was not speaking to the Jews of South Africa, he might as well have been as there is hardly a Semite in this part of the world that is not concerned as to his or her future. We live in troubling times given the recent welcome of terrorist Leila Khalid to the country, given the Durban University of Technology debacle where the SRC demanded the expulsion of Jewish students and given the fact that the Government seems to have allowed itself to become the puppets of the BDS movement with its racist and bigoted bias (as though there is another kind).
The global reaction to Netanyahu’s speech has been mixed, with many Jews and non-Jews alike reacting negatively to his message. The central theme of the reaction is simply that as Jews we should be allowed to live in safety and security in Europe and in England and in the USA and even in South Africa. What those who reject his message however are failing to realize, is that it is not Netanyahu who it making living in the Diaspora untenable. He is simply opening his arms, allocating funding and reminding the communities around the world that indeed Israel is their home and it is the one country that will do what it can to protect them. When Jews are being shot in the streets of Europe simply because they are Jewish what alternative does he have other than to offer them safe harbour?
The offer did not have an expiry date on it (not that I actually read the small print) and I am certain that he would be somewhat shocked and perhaps a little overwhelmed if the Israelites residing in the above mentioned countries decided to take him up on his offer and started packing their bags. Getting a seat on ElAl would be nigh on impossible (South African only has 3 flights a week to Israel) and the tickets prices would most likely make peniless refugees of us all.
I believe that Netanyahu’s invitation has struck a chord similar to when reminded by ex South Africans living abroad that they don’t have crime when we do, that they do have electricity when we don’t and that they don’t have the EFF or the ANC, whereas, well, we do. And we should well remember that react as we might, in the event of Eskom allowing the fan to be on for long enough for the proverbial to hit it, then it will be Israel that the Jews of the country turn to should they need to do.
And in the interim, as Jews around the world decide how to RSVP, we need to make sure that the environment that we live in is as positive as possible, that we build and don’t destroy and mostly, and most importantly, that we don’t shoot the messenger