July 23, 2024
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Diaspora Jews Feel Safer In Wartime Israel Than in New York, London or Paris

As hostilities against Jews escalate internationally, Israel, with all its challenges, still provides the safest solution to the Jewish nation.

Einat Wilf
(Courtesy of Laura Freeman for JFNNJ.

The current news cycle is dominated by two wars: the Russian war in Ukraine, and Israel facing Hamas and Hezbollah, commanded by the Iranian regime. Both Ukraine and Israel are fighting for their very existence. Yet, there is a third war that is happening unnoticed — that of the diaspora Jews against the antisemitic societies in London, Paris and New York. This has led to a surge of diaspora Jews immigrating to Israel, where they paradoxically feel safer in a war zone than in the communities where they grew up and have called home for generations.

Antisemitism spiked worldwide in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. In the U.S., twice as many cases of antisemitism were recorded in 2023 as compared to 2022. The same unprecedented surge of discrimination was recorded in the UK and other parts of Europe. In the UK, incidents included assaults, damage and desecration of Jewish property, threats, verbal and online abuse, as well as graffiti and hate mail.

The Jewish advisory body, Community Security Trust, has noted that the Jewish community is being “harassed, intimidated, threatened and attacked by extremists” in Britain’s schools, universities, workplaces and streets, as well as online. A Jewish woman who suffered from two antisemitic attacks in two weeks furthered: “I don’t feel safe anymore. None of us feel safe. I feel like I have to put another lock on the door because Britain feels like Nazi Germany.”

Last week, horrid events also took place in Paris, where a 12-year-old Jewish girl was gang raped in an act of antisemitism. In the country, antisemitic acts increased threefold in the first months of 2024, compared to the same period a year ago. Shocking events also took place in Los Angeles this week outside of Adas Torah synagogue. In the guises of a protest, antisemitic acts were committed, including blocking access to a house of worship and intimidating and violently assaulting the Californian Jewish community. At a time when the need for global solidarity is greatest, the Jewish diaspora no longer feels safe.

Importantly, these Jewish communities have lived in Western countries for generations and in many ways have become central pillars of their societies. But as the rise in violence against these communities becomes ever more ubiquitous, more and more Jews are finding safety in a war zone, fleeing the unchecked lawlessness of supposedly civilized societies. Under Israel’s “Law of Return,” Jews and descendants of Jews have the right to immigrate to Israel and obtain citizenship through a system known as aliyah. Since the start of 2024, Israel has recorded a 40% increase in the immigrant numbers from the UK, showing how many Jewish people have decided to take advantage of Israel’s policy. Additionally, in the U.S., over 9,700 requests to open aliyah files were received since October, which is an increase of 76% compared to the corresponding period last year.

Yet, while life in Israel is an appealing alternative to the constant harassment in the streets of New York, London and Paris, it is not a life without threats. Hezbollah has been conducting strikes on Israel almost daily since Oct. 7, displacing tens of thousands of residents. The ever-rising tensions suggest that an all-out war is all but inevitable. And yet, despite these harsh realities, the Jewish community around the world would rather risk their lives in a war than be in an environment of constant hatred and discrimination.

Such a reality illustrates a widespread failure of politicians and law enforcement bodies in the UK, France, and the U.S. to effectively combat antisemitism. Currently, Jewish people are facing the consequences of this failure, and if these countries continue to empower Hamas and other terrorist ideologies by not addressing this issue adequately, their own populations will soon face similar threats. The lack of decisive action against antisemitism in these supposedly safe and civilized societies is deeply concerning and demands urgent attention. While President Biden has condemned the antisemitic actions in Los Angeles, you cannot defeat terrorist ideology with a condemnation. This has become a law enforcement issue, and the DOJ as well as the FBI need to act before further radicalization leads to much more dire consequences.

As for diaspora Jews, the quote of President John F. Kennedy comes to mind: “Israel was not created in order to disappear — Israel will endure and flourish.” The violence and oppression faced by diaspora Jews today is a further reminder of the importance of the existence of the state of Israel. There is no other nation that had to fight for its freedom as many times as the Jews. And there is no other nation that will ensure their safety. Sadly, this generation is no exception, but it is also a testament to the strength of the Jewish people and their never-ceasing wish for freedom.


The writer is the founder and CEO of Key Elements Group.

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