Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Two Israeli lawmakers made a modest proposal in an op ed in the Wall Street Journal, according to The Times of Israel for the countries of the world to each take 10,000 or so Palestinian refugees from Gaza, if those refugees wish to emigrate. Far right extremist Bezalel Smotrich, the minister of finance, then piled on, urging a “voluntary migration” of Palestinians from Gaza.
Critics accused the three of plotting ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Their plea is rather like Andrew Jackson calling on the territory that became Oklahoma voluntarily to take the American Indian tribes of the deep South whom his trail of tears displaced from their homelands.
But I think that these Israeli officials’ call is too limited. Why stop at the Palestinians? Surely many Israelis themselves have been traumatized by decades of attempting to take the Palestinians’ land and the negative reactions those land grabs have evoked? Why not include them?
One poll this summer found that nearly a third of Israelis wish to emigrate, in part over pessimism about the country given the extremist governments attempts to gut the Supreme Court. The number could be higher today.
Of Israel’s 7 million Jews, at any one time about a million of them are living abroad. Whether because their visas run out or because their jobs were downsized, or out of homesickness, most of them ultimately used to return to Israel. But now a recent poll finds that half of the current generation living abroad, some 500,000 people, have no plans to return.
I call on their host countries, such as the United States (where half of all Israeli expats dwell), Britain, Italy, France, Germany or elsewhere immediately to offer these Israelis citizenship and allow them to stay in the country indefinitely, since that is their express wish. After all the persecution of Jews in the West, it is the least we can do to welcome our Jewish brothers and sisters and try to make amends for the ways in which they were caused to feel unwelcome in the past.
Moreover, open immigration of Israelis to these countries should be instituted, such that any of them who desires to can emigrate from Israel and make a new home. Special programs should be set up to offer them job training and integration into local communities.
I especially call on Germany to lift its harsh restrictions on Jewish immigration. As of now, Germany requires Jews who want to relocate there to have advanced German language skills. They won’t allow Jews from the former Soviet bloc to immigrate into Germany if they have lived in the US or Israel. Why? Germany for obvious reasons owes the Jewish people an open immigration policy. Germany should take in all the Jews who want to live in Germany.
There are currently 175,000 self-identified Jews in Germany. That is 0.2% of the 83 million Germans.
In January 1933 there were 522,000 Jews in Germany, with the country’s population then standing at 63 million. So 0.8% of Germans were Jews. We should surely try to get the numbers back up to the pre-Nazi percentages, at the very least, but there is no reason why the new united Germany, which has 5.5 million Muslims, shouldn’t have as many Jews as Muslims. If they would only take 5.5 million Jews from Israel who were willing to immigrate, why that would single-handedly resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Germany’s population is expected to decline to 73 million by the end of the century and the country will then be smaller than France or Britain. Germany could remain just as large a country if it took in large numbers of Israelis, and so could avoid being dominated by the French and British.
France, whose Vichy government was far more implicated in the Holocaust than most French are willing to admit, should also allow all the Israelis to come in who want to. Again, they have 5.7 million Muslims, so they really should offset that by taking in millions of Israelis who want to live in Paris (and who doesn’t want to live in Paris?)
As for Britain, it caused the whole problem of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute with its double-dealing during World War I and its asinine Balfour Declaration that promised Jews a homeland in Palestine while promising that the Palestinians would not be disadvantaged by it. Now that the horrid Suella Braverman is gone, maybe the UK can adopt a saner immigration policy. And part of it should be free immigration of Israelis.
Since there are really only 6 million Israeli Jews left in Israel, if each of the major North Atlantic countries just took in half a million, they could all flee the unpleasantness of drones, rockets, and terror attacks, and the even greater trauma of being ruled by far right extremists Binyamin Netanyahu, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir. In this way, the Europeans wouldn’t even have to admit the traumatized, ethnically cleansed Palestinians of Gaza, who could finally go back to their homes in southern Israel, from which their families were expelled in 1948.