JERUSALEM (JTA) — Denmark’s chief rabbi rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for European Jews to move to Israel in the wake of a terror attack on a Copenhagen synagogue.
“Terror is not a reason to move to Israel,” said Denmark Chief Rabbi Jair Melchior said Sunday.
His remarks came in response to a statement Netanyahu made on Sunday morning before Israel’s Cabinet approved a $46 million plan to encourage immigration and adapt the absorption process to Jews from France, Belgium and Ukraine.
“Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: ‘Israel is the home of every Jew,’” Netanyahu said.
“To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms,” he concluded.
Two policemen and a volunteer civilian guard were shot in the synagogue attack, as they guarded outside of the building in which a bat mitzvah party was taking place. The civilian guard died later from his injuries. The shooting after midnight on Sunday morning at Copenhagen’s central synagogue in Krystalgade occurred just hours after a fatal shooting Saturday afternoon at a free speech event at a cultural center featuring a Danish cartoonist, Lars Vilks, who is under police protection because of his cartoons caricaturing Mohammed.
Police later shot and killed the man believed to be the gunman in the two attacks during a shootout in the Noerrebro district of Copenhagen.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt visited the synagogue late Sunday morning, laying a bouquet of flowers at its gate, and vowing that Denmark “will do everything” it can to protect its Jewish community.
“Jews are a very important part of Danish society,” she said earlier at a news conference. “I say to the Jewish community – you are not alone.”
Copenhagen police said Sunday that the shooter may have been influenced by the Paris terror attacks last month at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket.