Since World War II, Israel has served as a much-needed haven for Jewish refugees from the Middle East, Ethiopia, former Soviet satellites and now France. One 2013 survey showed that almost a third of Europe’s Jews have considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism, with numbers as high as 46 percent in France and 48 percent in Hungary.
In May, four people were fatally shot at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium; in July a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, was attacked with firebombs. The list of anti-Semitic attacks goes on, most recently including the tragic murder of four at a kosher market in Paris.
Quietly, many Jews ask whether they have a future in Europe. When Jews feel threatened, they know they have a place to go: Israel. When Jews are in mortal danger, they know they will be rescued. Jews have been rescued from many countries around the world since World War II. This past year, 7,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel. In 2015, the number is expected to exceed 10,000.
In May 1949, 45,000 Yemenite Jews were allowed to leave Yemen in Israel’s Operation Magic Carpet. In one weekend in 1991, Israel airlifted 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to safety through Operation Solomon.
Who would have rescued them if there were no Israel?
(The writer is executive director of the Augusta Jewish Community Center.)