Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged all Jews living in the Diaspora to immigrate to Israel, in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris last week.
At the annual Taglit-Birthright ‘Mega Event’ in Israel, Netanyahu asked thousands of participants to hold a minute of silence for the victims of the attacks at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed, and later at a kosher supermarket in the French capital in which four Jewish men were murdered, among them Yoav Hattab. The young Tunisian Jew had visited Israel with Birthright, the program that brings Jewish 18-to-26-year-olds on free 10-day trips, just a few short weeks ago.
“Tonight, I call on all of you, and on all young Jews around the world: Come to Israel, Make aliya. This is your country. This is your birthright,” the prime minister urged.
Picking up on one of the popular slogans showing support for the victims of the market siege, Netanyahu said his visit to France following the attacks made him question whether Jews in other countries were free and unafraid to declare their identity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the annual Taglit-Birthright Israel event.Video: GPO.
Posted by The Prime Minister of Israel on Wednesday, 14 January 2015
“I was proud to represent Israel in Paris alongside other world leaders in the fight against terror. I saw there masses of French people marching and saying “Je Suis Charlie” [in support of the victims of the satirical magazine attack] — and in my heart, I said to myself ‘for us [Jews] there is an additional questions — can Jews in other countries march in the street declaring “Je Suis Juif” [I am Jewish]?
“I tell you as prime minister of Israel what every Jew in the State of Israel can say, ‘Je Suis Juif’, and we declare this without fear, without hesitation, and with great pride,” he went on.
“This is what makes Israel unique. Every Jew can feel part of Israel and that Israel belongs to them.”
Netanyahu has made several remarks urging mass immigration to Israel, including in a subtle speech delivered to an audience at the Grand Synagogue in Paris following the massive rally against terror on Sunday in the French capital that drew dozens of world leaders and some 1.6 million people.
Other Israeli leaders including Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett also made similar statements following the attacks.
The four victims at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris last Friday — Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Phillipe Barhan and Francois Michel Saada — were buried in Jerusalem on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Netanyahu, Knesset members from various political parties and religious leaders.