“We are bracing ourselves and calling for a mass immigration from Europe,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a $46 million plan to finance the arrival of thousands of Jewish people expected to immigrate from Europe, following a number of anti-Semitic attacks on the continent in recent months.
Just hours after a gunman in Copenhagen, Denmark, fatally shot a man outside a synagogue as part of twin terrorist attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was ready to welcome Jews “home.”
“I would like to say to all of Europe’s Jews, and Jews everywhere, Israel is the home of every Jew,” he said in a Facebook post.
Under Israeli law, Jewish immigrants to Israel are entitled to financial support. The multi-million-dollar package approved Sunday will finance the arrival of what the government estimates will be thousands of Jews from Ukraine, France, and Belgium.
While much of eastern Ukraine has been left devastated by civil war, France and Belgium have been the target of anti-Semitic attacks in recent months. In Paris last month, four Jewish men were killed inside a kosher supermarket by an Islamist gunman, while four people were killed at a Jewish museum in Brussels in May 2014.
“This wave of attacks is expected to continue,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. “Jews deserve security in every country, but we say to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Israel is your home.”
However, Netanyahu’s comments were met with anger by Copenhagen’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior.
“People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism. But not because of terrorism,” Melchior told the Associated Press. “If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.”
On Sunday, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt lay flowers outside the synagogue where a security guard was shot dead.
“Our thoughts go to the whole of the Jewish community today,” she told reporters. “They belong in Denmark. They are a strong part of our community, and we will do everything we can to protect the Jewish community in our country.”
Netanyahu is in the middle of a re-election campaign, with elections scheduled for March 17.