While our eyes are transfixed on the terrible events currently unfolding in France I am struck by the bitter irony that those who seek to hurt Jews end up making us stronger.
More Jews made aliyah from France than any other country in the world in 2014. Peaking at just under 7,000 souls the number of French Jews who made aliyah in 2014 was double that in 2013. The reasons why (should anyone need a reminder) are right before our eyes. The logical conclusion from the last few years is that it simply isn’t safe to be a Jew in France any more.
Around the world Jews gasped at the stories of anti-Semitism coming out of France, each one shockingly more extreme than the one before. I don’t want to guess at how much worse things are going to get in the years to come.
Lowlights from 2014 include a mob attacking a synagogue during Israel’s war with Gaza, a synagogue shot at three times in the same week, a Jewish woman raped in her own home in an overtly anti-Semitic attack. The list of outrages goes on and on.
While the terror incidents capture the headlines it is the stories of day to day intimidation which serve as a constant reminder to Jews living in France that they are no longer welcome. Nothing embodies this more than the rise of the inverted Nazi salute, the Quenelle among so many people on the streets of France. On Israeli television French Jews have spoken about their fear of roaming the streets wearing any visible Jewish symbols.
While watching the news I am reminded of the fact that a hundred and twenty years ago in Paris, on the very same streets now running red with blood, the screams of “death to the Jews” by a Parisian mob, heard by a man named Theodore Herzl set in motion events which directly led to the nation state to which French Jewry can now flee.
By the same token the anti-Semitic terror in France and elsewhere in the world will only make us stronger.
Just as the Jews forced out of Arab countries made Israel stronger, just as the arrival of a million Jews from the former Soviet Union made Israel stronger, just as the arrival every day of Jews from around the world to Israel make us stronger so the anti-Semitism in France will see the arrival of thousands of French Jews who will serve only to make our nation state that much stronger.
The anti-Semitism exhibited by so many different people and groups holding ideologies disagreeing fundamentally on everything except for their Jew hatred have succeeded only in making Israel stronger. And by extension the Jewish people stronger. In the twenty first century Jews no longer have to suffer intimidation, persecution and terror with no recourse. Now Jews can come home.
Israel is here, ready and waiting to embrace all Jews, wherever they’re from, whatever their circumstances. By embracing our brothers and sisters we will grow stronger while our enemies, the worshippers of death, will whither away and die.