Tuesday, 17 February 2015 - 17:52
Netherlands unimaginable without Jewish people: Deputy PM
Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher was quick to tell Dutch Jews that their presence is valued in the Netherlands following a controversial call by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging European Jews to move to Israel. "There is no conceivable Netherlands without Dutch Jews. Our history is connected, our future will be," said Asscher on Tuesday. The statement of Netanyahu followed the Sunday shooting of a Jewish security guard manning the doors of a synagogue in Copenhagen which was hosting a bat mitzvah. It garnered fast European reaction, with Dutch Jewish activist Ronny Naftaniel taking to Twitter to express disagreement with the call. "If you go to Israel, do so because of a positive choice," he said to het Parool, arguing that Netanyahu was inappropriately using fear as a reason for emigration. Netanyahu pledged to ensure Jewish safety in Israel. “This wave of terror attacks can be expected to continue, including antisemitic and murderous attacks. We say to the Jews, to our brothers and sisters, Israel is your home and that of every Jew. Israel is waiting for you with open arms,” Netanyahu said. French President François Hollande, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel echoed Asscher's words, asking their Jewish nationals not to leave for Israel. Hollande visited the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union on Tuesday, following the destruction of over 300 graves over the weekend, and promised French Jews that France will do everything it can to protect them. "Their place is obviously in France", he said, pledging to tirelessly pursue prosecution of racist and anti-Semitic action. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls added that the Netanyahu was in the middle of a general election campaign, and called the statement regrettable.