‘I will not let people believe that Jews no longer have a place in Europe’: Hollande’s fury after Netanyahu makes plea for ‘mass emigration’ to Israel in wake of anti-Semitic terror attacks
- Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu told Jews: Move here to stop more murder
- Comments sparked outrage among European leaders and Jewish groups
- French President Francois Hollande said he cannot let the comment pass
- He said Netanyahu was ‘leading people to believe that Jews no longer have a place in Europe and in France in particular’
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government will do everything possible to protect Jewish sites
- Danish Chief Rabbi Jair Melchior said he was ‘disappointed’ in Netanyahu
European leaders have reacted with anger at Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extraordinary plea for Jews to leave Europe to escape the rising tide of antisemitic terror attacks.
Netanyahu said that Europe was no longer a safe haven for Jews following terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, adding that Israel is now the only country in the world where Jews can feel safe.
The remarkable comments were promptly savaged by the leaders of France, Germany and Denmark, and were met with fury from Jewish groups.
French President Francois Hollande said. ‘I will not just let what was said in Israel pass, leading people to believe that Jews no longer have a place in Europe and in France in particular,’ while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government is doing everything possible to protect Jewish sites.
Anger: French President Francois Hollande (right) reacted angrily to comments made by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left), saying: ‘I will not just let what was said in Israel pass, leading people to believe that Jews no longer have a place in Europe and in France in particular’
Denmark’s current Chief Rabbi Jair Melchior (right) comforts a woman at the scene of the Copenhagen terror attack. Netanyahu’s comments triggered an angry response from Melchior, who said he was ‘disappointed’
United: Denmark’s Former Chief Rabbi Bent Melchior (left) embraces Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (right) while French Chief Rabbi Moise Lewin (centre) looks on, during a visit the scene of the Copenhagen attack
The chair of Britain’s Parliamentary committee against anti-Semitism, John Mann, also attacked Mr Netanyahu’s remarks.
He said: ‘Mr Netanyahu made the same remarks in Paris – it’s just crude electioneering. It’s no coincidence that there’s a general election in Israel coming up.
‘The comments are not helpful and I think people will ignore them…We’re not prepared to tolerate a situation in this country or in any country in Europe where any Jews feel they have to leave.’
‘But if people make a positive choice to move then that’s their right to do so,’ he added.
This afternoon a Downing Street spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister called the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, today to personally offer his condolences and to offer the UK’s support at this difficult time.
‘Both agreed on the importance of the UK and Danish authorities continuing to work together to tackle the threat posed by Islamist extremism, including the close co-operation between our intelligence agencies.
‘They also agreed that the shootings in Copenhagen reinforced the case for even closer international cooperation to tackle terrorism, for example cracking down on the trafficking of illegal firearms and exchanging passenger name records.’
Netanyahu’s renewed call for a modern-day exodus came just hours after the deadly terror attacks in Copenhagen and one month after four hostages were killed at a Paris kosher deli
Talks: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) speaks with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, during a ceremony for new Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot this morning
Benjamin Netanyahu’s renewed a call for Jews to move to Israel amid fears of attack – but his remarks were slammed by French PM Manuel Valls (pictured) who appeared to accuse him of electioneering
German Chancellor Angela Merkel this morning said that her government will do everything possible to ensure Jewish sites are secure
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (pictured this afternoon) also expressed support for the Jewish community, telling reporters: ‘They belong in Denmark, they are a strong part of our community, and we will do everything we can to protect the Jewish community in our country’
Frenchmen have been accused of three deadly attacks on Jewish sites since 2012: one at a school in the southern city of Toulouse, another at a museum in Brussels and finally one at a kosher market last month. Twelve people died in total
Hundreds of graves at a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg were also desecrated over the weekend amid heightened fears in France, which has the world’s third-largest Jewish population.
‘We know there are doubts, questions across the community,’ French President Francois Hollande said as he reacted with shock and anger to Netanyahu’s comments.
Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel this morning said that her government will do everything possible to ensure Jewish sites are secure.
‘We are glad and thankful that there is Jewish life in Germany again,’ Merkel said in Berlin. ‘And we would like to continue living well together with the Jews who are in Germany today.’
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls also slammed Netanyahu’s comments, telling 475,000 French Jews the whole nation was ‘wounded with you’ after a gunman killed two people including a synagogue security guard in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Mr Valls criticised Netanyahu’s plea for mass migration – and questioned its timing just a month before Mr Netanyahu seeks re-election to the Israeli Parliament on March 17.
The French Prime Minister said: ‘My message to French Jews is the following: ‘France is wounded with you and France does not want you to leave’.’
‘I regret Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks. Being in the middle of an election campaign doesn’t mean you authorise yourself to make just any type of statement… The place for French Jews is France.’
A Jew who leaves France is a piece of France that is gone,’ he later added.
Gunned down: The terror suspect believed to have killed two men in separate shootings in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Valentine’s Day was shot dead by police at around 5am yesterday after a dramatic standoff
Terror suspect: Danish-born 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, pictured left in an appeal following a 2013 knife attack and right on Saturday, was killed in Denmark after opening fire on officer.
Smashed glass: Investigators were seen at the Krudttonden cafe in the city yesterday morning where the gunman fired 200 bullets at crowds attending a freedom of speech event
Victims: Finn Norgaard, 55, (left) was killed at a free speech debate in a cafe hours before 37-year-old Dan Uzan (right), a basketball player, was shot in the head as he guarded the door of a Bat Mitzvah
Controversial: Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks (pictured) has previously depicted the prophet Muhammad as a stray dog. He believes he was the gunman’s intended target
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt also expressed support for the Jewish community, telling reporters: ‘They belong in Denmark, they are a strong part of our community, and we will do everything we can to protect the Jewish community in our country.’
‘The Jewish community have been in this country for centuries. They belong in Denmark, they are part of the Danish community and we wouldn’t be the same without the Jewish community in Denmark,’ she added.
Netanyahu’s comments also triggered an angry response from Copenhagen’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, who said he was ‘disappointed’ by the remarks.
‘People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism. But not because of terrorism,’ he said. ‘If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island,’ he added.
More than 80 per cent of the world’s Jews live in the U.S. and Israel but there are large communities elsewhere, including in Canada, Britain, Russia, Argentina, Germany and Australia.
Netanyahu issued his call during the weekly meeting of his Cabinet, which approved a previously scheduled $46 million plan to encourage Jewish immigration from France, Belgium and Ukraine – countries where large numbers of Jews have expressed interest in moving to Israel.
British senior Labour party backbencher Louise Ellman also criticised the Israeli leader’s remarks.
Mrs Ellman – one of the most prominent Jewish MPs in Parliament – said: ‘I disagree with what he has said…It is the responsibility of all governments to look after their citizens and that includes Jewish citizens.’
A spokesperson for Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim
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