(JTA) — Western Europe faces a “very real prospect of an exodus of Jews” because of anti-Semitic violence, a leader of European Jewry told Russian President Vladimir Putin.
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor made the statement to the Russian president during a meeting between Putin and delegates from seven European Union member states, the congress said in a statement.
Putin replied by suggesting Jews who leave Western Europe come to Russia, BBC reported.
“Let them come to us. In the Soviet Union they used to go away, now let them come back,” Putin said with a smile.
Kantor said that, “While Jews were once again a prominent target for global terror during 2015, the attacks in Paris, the U.S., and elsewhere, and the mass murder of Russians on an airline in the Sinai, show that the terrorists target us all,” Kantor said during the meeting, which was also attended by EJC delegates from France, Britain, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and Latvia.
“There is a very real prospect of an exodus of Jews from certain parts” of the continent, where Jews are feeling less safe than a decade ago, Kantor, who was born in what is today Russia and has business enterprises there, told Putin.
He added that the meeting with Putin was part of the need to have “pragmatic nations” united “in defeating global terror, which is being led by the so-called Islamic State.”
Kantor noted that the delegation was “glad” about the statistical decrease of anti-Semitism in Russia. “We commend the Russian authorities in the fight against those who target Jews,” he said.