The new Jewish exodus: Emigrating Israelis replaced by European Jewry

By Naava Mashiah via Your Middle East

So much ink has been spilled over the past month during the latest eruption of violence between Israel and Gaza. An overflow of comments and statements, adjurations, appeals, dissensions, analysis and condemnations have been posted on social networks, media and published by think tanks. I am not in a position or will to write about the horror of war or the violence we witnessed, nor discuss the geopolitical implications of this latest round of actions (or non-actions) by the leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

I would like to point out that this time, it is different.

But I would like to point out that this time, it is different. This time there is a different sense in the air. A point of no return has been crossed. At least this is what I see from my vantage point.

I wanted to discuss a gradual phenomenon of population exchange which is taking place – not of refugees, but rather, between the Jewish Diaspora, particularly European, and the Israeli population. There has been over the past few years a rising phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Europe. It is accelerated when there is violence in the region but it is NOT simply a correlation to what is occurring in the region. The anti-Semitic incidents are most prevalent in France and Belgium, where there is a large Jewish minority and also a large Muslim community. There have been isolated attacks on synagogues and Jewish owned stores in France. Germany has seen an alarming increase in anti-Semitic protests while in Rome, anti-Semitic graffiti is much more prevalent. A shooting in a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2012 occurred when there was not much news coming out of Israel at the time.

A reaction to this wave of increase of anti-Semitism is for European Jewry to purchase a second home in Israel, and some even change their domicile to Israel. For them, Israel still represents the ‘safe haven’ and provides refuge from these anti-Semitic actions. True, they benefit as well from no income tax for a certain period when they arrive; however, this is not the sole incentive.

On the other hand, I have been witness to many of my Israeli compatriots seeking to issue a second passport, a European passport. Some of their parents or grandparents originally hailed from Europe, and people are taking the time to go to the various embassies, prove their family roots, and wait for a second passport to arrive in the post…just in case. Perhaps they will need it if the ‘situation’ deteriorates and they must search for a safe haven in Europe.

This time around the comments on the social media were not complacent and there was a true worry about what type of society Israel is transforming into. There is no longer freedom of speech, at least for the left wing coalition, and the moderate journalists whom may express a tendency to be left of center. The left has not lost its voice, it is being stomped and bullied off the streets. People are wondering what type of society and values they are leaving for their children and grandchildren. This process of acquiring a second passport is not being done overtly, but rather, discretely for it is not a patriotic vote of confidence for the survival of the country.

So I see two sectors of the Jewish population, one in the diaspora, one in Israel, which believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. You wonder whom is deceiving themselves and whom will actually follow through and make the move. Will the exodus from Israel be larger than the inflow of immigrants from Europe? Will the immigration from North America still continue to make up the gap? Even as I write this, after the beginning of the cease-fire, a plane has landed with a planeload of new immigrants.

The Israelis whom move to Europe, as I did four years ago, will find out that the policy of the Israeli government will inevitably affect their life in Europe, even a small remote village. For the local population will remind you that you are Jewish and therefore connected to this homeland. It really doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with the Israeli government’s policies.

This time around something is different in the air. And people are taking stock of their lives, existence, and future. They are seeing the encroaching violence on their borders of extremist Jihadist movements, which are acting against their own brethren. They are seeing ISIS dropping leaflets on Oxford St in the UK encouraging Muslims to attack and move to the new Caliphate. People are not just preparing a plan in the top drawer, they are taking out the plan and dusting it off, and analyzing the various options.

Many in Europe say that it reminds them of Europe in 1936, and are reminded of those whom were proactive and departed, ending up as survivors. Some do not think we have reached such a drastic situation. While in Israel, it is no longer considered ‘against the stream’ to emigrate as it was in the 70’s when the immigrants were considered traitors to the country.

It is intriguing to watch these two streams of immigration like the currents in a river and see which direction the waters flow.

Naava Mashiah is CEO of M.E. Links and active in Middle Eastern Informal Diplomacy. She is also a member of Your Middle East’s Advisory Board.

Mirrored from Your Middle East

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “Israel and Hamas trade more blows while Egypt seeks new Gaza ceasefire”

11 Responses

  1. Over long periods of history, humans have always fled conflict zones. It is a matter of how they view the conflict where they are and how relatively “safe” (in their mind) the place where they want to go is.

    For many Israeli in the 20/30/40 age range, there are often many possibilities to work outside Israel on a “green card” basis and often after a period of time, they can even get citizenship.

    As the ME area becomes more unstable and Europe becomes less friendly, I suspect that many younger Israelis will opt to work in the US or Asia where their talents are wanted and discrimination is somewhat low. Note that in Asia, they will have some discrimination, but not because they are Jews, but because they are not Asian (all non-Asians get that).

    While there is discrimination in Europe, it is no where near the past and is never likely to get as bad as under the Nazis. To think otherwise is just delusional paranoia.

    My best guess is that over the next few years as conditions deteriorate, Israel will have a net loss of Jewish population. That is, the young that can easily leave will do so, leaving an older, more religious and less educated population with higher levels of irrational paranoia.

    Note that without the young, Israel will have a less capable military and less cannon fodder.

  2. How much of this movement can be explained by economics, e.g. young people following the job market?

    • Note that because of Israel’s choice to not get along with their neighbors, the economy in Israel is having major problems right now. The Israel central bank just lowered their interest rate to 0.25% in an attempt to avoid a recession.

      Note that if Hamas is successful in blowing up just one airliner sitting empty on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion airport Israel’s economy will crater.

      Israel is caught in their own trap. If they don’t open up Gaza and stop the war, the Israeli economy will go into a tailspin, but if they open up Gaza, they will have lost politically.

      Over the long term, as I noted, I think Israel will lose a generation to better lives in other parts of the globe.

      While Israel talks about the number of people still moving to Israel, in reality those numbers are very, very small and most of the people are NOT in the productive ages.

      I suspect that the economy is what will end Israel not warfare.

  3. ”Even as I write this, after the beginning of the cease-fire, a plane has landed with a planeload of new immigrants.”

    A planeload is what? Maybe 25O people? That’s hardly going to solve Israel’s ‘demographic problem.’ It barely matters if the number of Jews emigrating is balanced by those coming into Israel, and this article is very very vague on numbers anyway. What matters is that in the land ruled by Israel, at least 5O% of the population is not Jewish, and that proportion is only likely to increase over time. In this context, it makes little odds if a handful of well-off French Jews maintain second homes in a ‘settlement’, arranged for them on very favourable terms, of course. The problems of the ‘Jewish democracy’ can’t be solved by that.

  4. One very large factor not mentioned is that in Europe, no government is making the kind of statements that are routine from the Israeli government. No European official is calling for Jews to leave or calling them beasts, etc. as we have come to expect from Netanyahu’s cabinet. There is no self-righteous Golda Meir asking why the Jews force the French or Germans to write anti-Semitic graffiti on synagogues (I was astounded that her words were used in the recent pro-Israel ad in the NYT – there are those who take it at face value!).

    In fact, the kind of talk that is routine in Israel’s government would be immediately called out and condemned if spoken about Jews in Europe’s halls of power. For all the idiocy of individual European bigots, it is clear that Europe has not forgotten the lessons of WW2, while it seems that Israel, always calling for remembrance, has.

  5. It might be helpful if Europe still genuinely had a Left. The parties of the Left are always where competing minorities find themselves having to work together. That’s why Israel’s Left had to be destroyed – too many Jews fraternizing with Arabs. If immigrant Arabs were to recognize themselves as Europe’s new proletariat, instead of refugees clinging to religious identity, they would only have one choice. If immigrant Jewish leftists were to recognize the hand of class warfare in their fate, they would only have one choice. Good luck on finding the kind of leadership on the Left to bridge that gap.

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