Pitch for aliyah should not be based on fear

After last week’s twin terror attacks in Copenhagen, which left two dead, including a Danish filmmaker and a Jewish security guard at a synagogue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again urged Europe’s Jews to move to Israel.

So far, the official response of leaders seems to be, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Seen in the light of history, it is no surprise that an Israeli prime minister would push for immigration. After all, aliyah has been the mechanism for populating Israel, especially in the 1950s in the wake of the Holocaust, and in the late ’80s and early ’90s when a million Jews from the former Soviet Union sought safety and better lives in the Jewish state.

Indeed, Israel remains a haven for Jews from all over the world. But despite a rash of anti-Semitic incidents across Europe, we understand the sentiments of Jeppe Juhl, a Danish Jew who told a French news agency, “We’re very grateful for Netanyahu’s concern, but we are Danish … and we’re staying in Denmark. If we move to Israel it’s for other reasons.”

After the Paris massacres last month at the magazine Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market, all of France mourned. For Jews, the mourning was touched with a special fear. Anti-Jewish incidents have skyrocketed in France, and Jews are considering their options. This year’s aliyah figures are expected to double from 2014, when more than 7,000 French Jews made the move.

For those families, aliyah was the right choice. But it is unseemly for the Israeli prime minister to insert himself at such a raw moment, undercutting an ardent effort by European governments to protect their Jewish citizens.

Not all Jews need or want to move to Israel. The correct stance for Israel to take is to open its arms to Jews who wish to come live in the Jewish state, while helping those who stay in the diaspora combat Islamic extremism and what appears to be growing anti-Jewish sentiment.

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres got it right this past week when, at a benefit he was attending in New York, he told the audience, “Come because you want to live in Israel.”

As both the French and Danish prime ministers said in the wake of their nations’ tragedies, neither country would be the same if they lost their Jewish communities. That would signify an epic failure of an open, democratic society. They know it, and leaders across Europe know it,.

Jews everywhere must be safe and secure in their homelands, just as we are here in the United States.

The nations of Europe, where anti-Semitism was born and bred, must find a way out of this crisis. And we must support them in this critical endeavor.