Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been widely condemned for urging the “mass migration” of European Jews to Israel after the attack on a shul in Copenhagen.
British anti-Semitism chief John Mann MP led the British reaction, calling Netanyahu’s remarks “crude electioneering” just a month before Israeli voters go to the polls.
“Mr Netanyahu made the same remarks in Paris,” said Mann, who heads the Parliamentary committee against anti-Semitism. “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.”
Labour backbencher Louise Ellman MP, who is Jewish, also criticised Netanyahu, saying: “I disagree with what he has said…It is the responsibility of all governments to look after their citizens, including Jewish citizens.”
Mann and Ellman echoed the thoughts of religious and political leaders from France, Denmark and Germany, who were heavily critical of the remarks and the timing of them.
“Being in the middle of an election campaign doesn’t mean you authorise yourself to make just any type of statement,” said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. “The place for French Jews is France.”
President Francois Hollande, in rare public criticism of one head of state by another, said: “’I will not let what was said in Israel pass, leading people to believe Jews no longer have a place in Europe and in France.”
In Denmark, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt joined in, saying the “Jewish community have been in this country for centuries and belong in Denmark” while Chief Rabbi Jair Melchior was “disappointed” by the remarks.
“People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism, not because of terrorism,” said Melchior. “If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.”
Zionist Federation chairman Paul Charney said Netanyahu was “absolutely correct to remind European Jews that Israel will always be a safe haven” but that “no-one is realistically suggesting everyone immediately make Aliyah”.
He added: “Those taking umbrage should concentrate on righting the course of the ship, not take pot-shots at those preparing the lifeboat.”