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Israel Beefs Up Plans To Help European Jews Move To Israel

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And we're hearing more this morning about the deadly attacks in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the weekend. One of the targets was a synagogue where a Jewish night guard was killed. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is once again encouraging European Jews to move to Israel. And as NPR's Emily Harris reports, Israel is planning to spend tens of millions of dollars to support that immigration.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Netanyahu said Sunday Israel is preparing for and calling for a mass immigration from Europe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Foreign language spoken).

HARRIS: He said Jews deserve protection in every country, but also said to all European Jews, and all Jews wherever they are, Israel is the home of every Jew.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NETANYAHU: (Foreign language spoken).

HARRIS: The Prime Minister made similar remarks after terrorist attacks in Paris last month. His calls for immigration from Europe have met with mixed reactions. Some new immigrants from France have told NPR they feel safer in Israel because they blend in. They are not a visible and targeted minority. But Denmark's chief rabbi said Sunday he's disappointed with Netanyahu's comments. He said Jews should not allow terrorist acts to determine their choices.

On Sunday, Israel's Cabinet approved a $46 million plan to encourage immigration, especially from France, Belgium and Ukraine. It includes things like Hebrew lessons and information fairs in European Jewish communities. Immigration to Israel from France and Ukraine rose significantly last year. The Israeli Cabinet noted that interest in immigration from Europe presents a unique opportunity to strengthen Israel. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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