Holocaust survivor (illustration)
Holocaust survivor (illustration) Flash 90

A Hebrew-language Facebook page urging Israelis to immigrate to the German capital of Berlin for lower cost of living has many livid in the Jewish state, incensed over the idea of abandoning Israel for the birthplace of the genocidal Nazi Holocaust.

Foremost among opponents of the page is Avichai Shikli, head of the Tavor Mechina (pre-university school) in Nazereth Illit, who spoke to Arutz Sheva on Tuesday about the campaign.

"The Berlin trend is infuriating. There's a spiteful statement here, a complete ignoring of the past and the Holocaust. It's just scandalous," said Shikli.

Speaking about the campaign's listing of lower food costs in Berlin as an incentive for Jews to leave the Jewish state, Shikli added "if a person chooses where to live based on the price of Milky (an Israeli pudding), that testifies to the quality of his life. The quality of his life is as the quality of the Milky."

The Mechina head pointed out the particularly insensitive message of the Berlin campaign for Jews who survived the horrors of Nazi Germany.

"There are still Holocaust survivors living among us, and this trend is a knife in their hearts," said Shikli, appraising that the campaign was started by a protest organization that intentionally chose Berlin as an evocative alternative to Israel.

"Natural Zionism"

The educator continued by dissecting the issue in an appraisal of the current generation, saying "this is the best youth there is and the most skilled, they go to all kinds of groups and receive everything, but on topics of identity, questions like what are we and why are we here - these questions aren't discussed."

"The last time they talked about the Tanakh (Torah, Prophets and Writings) was in kindergarten when they got dolls of (baby) Moses in a basket," said Shikli, adding sarcastically "don't mention opening a page of the Gemara or being familiar with the Jewish tradition."

According to Shikli, many of Israel's youths become "natural Zionists," who are simply in Israel out of inertia, but not out of any deep thought or clear identity. He added "natural Zionism that doesn't clarify its essence and identity is not enough, because when the shopping list in Berlin enchants us, or when Islamic State (ISIS) knocks on our door, they'll leave."

According to the educator, the "fatal" mistake in distancing Israel's youth from Jewish values stems from Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who chose to divide state and state religious schools.

"In state education a child learns Tanakh like geology. It's the most depressing class they have. Biblical criticism takes the soul out of the text, it takes the kindness and truth from the story of Yonah. Who speaks about any of this?" stated Shikli.

In his own educational facility, Shikli told Arutz Sheva that he emphasizes spiritual and cultural meaning as a base for Jewish identity, even for those who do not observe Jewish law, adding "Judaism has the ability to fill life with meaning even for a secular Jew."

Asked about how he educates students to be committed to Israel even when it might endanger them, Shikli says questions of freedom and choice are central to the issue.

"Is it just freedom from something, or is freedom also positive, an obligation to something," poses Shikli. "If we just don't want anyone to tell us what to do, then there really is no reason not to emigrate; but if freedom means maintaining our culture, our symbols, our customs and values - and in this field we have much to show the western world - that can only be done in the land of Israel."

Along these lines, Shikli said there was much room for improvement in Israel, particularly in the legal system. According to him, today Israel represents German laws; "I want a legal system that represents Jewish values."