Prime Minister Netanyahu oversteps

Dear Editor,

The anti-Semitic attacks in Copenhagen, like those in Paris earlier this year, left the world reeling – but not surprised. As unusual as this kind of violence is in Denmark, it is more common today than at any time in the last 60 years.

Can it be that Jewish life in Europe is at its end? Can it be that Jewish life in Europe should be at its end, that Jews should flee for safer havens in Israel or the United States?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said as much, calling for a wave of mass aliyah (emigration to Israel) of European Jews.  He said also that “Israel is the home of every Jew.” As a Jew and a scholar, this took me aback.

I have never been to Israel and do not speak modern Hebrew. I am not a citizen of Israel. I was born an American citizen and this is my home. I am a Jew and I am not Israeli; prime minister, with all due respect, do not presume to speak for me.

Nor should the prime minister aspire to speak in the name of no less than eight million other non-Israeli Jews worldwide. The false equivalence between Jew and Israeli is both false and damning, and incites violence from the world at large.

Zionism has rightly asserted the right of every Jew to call Israel home if they so choose, but it is illogical and wrong to subvert the right of every Jew to live safely in the country of their birth or of their own choosing in the name of aliyah.

The prime minister’s words do just that, undermining the legitimacy of diaspora communities by associating them, possibly against their will, with the will and policies of the State of Israel. No, Bibi doesn’t speak for me.


Julia A. Walsh