Jewish students from Europe told Israeli officials on Tuesday to desist from their frequent appeals to move to Israel because of anti-Semitism, espeically in France, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Delegates of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) meeting in Israel told the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee some things that might help to explain the failure of a mass migration to Israel from Europe to materialize, as some had hoped.
“We are the generation that grew up behind bulletproof glass,” said the president of the WUJS, Benny Fischer. “But we don’t all intend to leave, and if people constantly shout at us that there is no future for Jews in Europe, it’s not only patronizing but it also does not help. We have centuries of history in the countries we are living in, and as much as we need the state of Israel, Israel also sometimes needs the Diaspora.”
Noemie Madar, National Secretary of the French Union of Jewish Students, told the gathering, “When people say Jews don’t have a place in France, we disagree,” noting the many generations that Jews had lived in the country despite anti-Semitism. She explained that emigration to Israel should come from a place of desire, rather than a place of fear.
Madar also noted that antisemitism has decreased in France during the past year, and that since the deadly terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, the Jews no longer feel that they are alone but that they have been “included into the family picture.”
Israel’s campaign to fight BDS was also on the firing line.
Fischer criticized anti-BDS activists for failing to understand BDS supporters and how to reach them. Most are not anti-Semitic, he argued, but got involved with the boycott movement because they see it as a cause for peace.
“If you look at the language they use, it makes sense,” he said. “They talk about peace; we talk about the war against BDS.”
“There is some 80 percent you can talk to, but if you want to make a change you must engage in discussion,” he said. “Not every person that supports BDS is an anti-Semite,” he said, though he agreed that the core ideology of BDS is ant-Semitic.
Noemie Madar, National Secretary of the French Union of Jewish Students, backed Fischer’s remarks. “When people say Jews don’t have a place in France, we disagree,” she told the audience, noting the many years that French Jews had lived in the country. She said that emigration to Israel should come from a place of desire, rather than a place of fear.
British UJS President Josh Seitler sought to dispel the impression that Jews in that country are huddling under a siege of constant anti-Semitism. Jewish students in the U.K. “have a great time on campus,” he said.
“I went to the London School of Economics, and I wore a kippa every day,” said Seitler, although he conceded that the annual Israel Apartheid Week or Israeli lectures protested and sometimes closed down by Palestinian activists “makes the conversation more difficult.”
One official who observed the meeting noted a disconnect between the foreign students and some of the other speakers.
The students’ comments were delivered following the presentation of grim statistics by Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise.
According to data furnished by the Diaspora Ministry, 40 percent of European citizens are anti-Semitic, and 75 percent of Jewish students in the U.S. have experienced anti-Semitism.
In 2015, Neguise said, 29,287 anti-Semitic attacks were reported on social media.