Eliyus Paz, Head of World Bnei Akiva in Germa
Eliyus Paz, Head of World Bnei Akiva in GermaYoni Kempinski

Much controversy has been raised over a Facebook page urging Israelis to move to Berlin, with some saying the page is "anti-Zionist." 

But how do German Jewish leaders see the situation? 

Arutz Sheva spoke to Eliyus Paz, head of the World Bnei Akiva in Germany, to find out more about facts on the ground. 

"People here aren't very busy comparing Israel and Berlin," Paz stated to Arutz Sheva"We really feel uncomfortable with it."  

"First of all, because it's not very true," he continued. "There are things which are much cheaper in Germany but there are things that are not at all."

"If you are a youngster living in Berlin, in Kreuzberg, living in a specific neighborhood and living a specific lifestyle - then, yes, life will be very cheap for you," Paz conceded. "If you have kids - more than one or two kids - and you're buying diapers, for example, then Germany's not cheap at all." 

Paz also noted that public transportation is cheaper in Israel.

"I am holding a bus ticket, a simple bus ticket. This cost. 2.5 Euro ($3.17)," Paz noted. "In Israel, an intracity bus ticket cost 6 shekels ($1.59). This [European ticket] is almost 14 shekels for exactly the same trip."

But what really bothers German Jewry about the campaign is not the lack of accuracy, but the intent.

Paz told Arutz Sheva that he met a Palestinian on a local train recently who told him that Falafel in the Palestinian Authority is just 1 shekel (26 cents), but added "I don't see everyone going to move to Beit Lehem."  

"People who are coming to Berlin are, more than they are saying, 'Germany is cheap,' they are saying 'We have something against Israel,'" Paz stated, adding that they are "mocking Israel" by saying that the country responsible for the Holocaust is "better than Israel." 

Paz added that he works with many Israelis who emigrated to Berlin, and said that there is a trend for some to return to Judaism after settling down and realizing that they lack critical resources or a spiritual connection to their homeland. 

In fact, there is a strong movement for Jewish Germans and even Israelis to move back to Israel, he said, mainly out of concern for the education for their children. 

"Milky movement": frustration or frugality?

A Facebook campaign which emerged earlier this month, urging frugal Israelis to emigrate has caused an unprecedented level of controversy over the role of economics in public opinion in Israel, as well as the strength - or weakness - of Zionism among younger Israelis.

The page claims that at least 9,300 Israelis have expressed a desire to flee to Europe over the past several weeks. 

However, an official tally indicates that emigration appears to be at the lowest rates in recent history, with liberal estimates stating that just 15,000-18,000 Israelis are living in Germany today. 

The page has also caused an immense uproar from public figures, including MKs and educators. 

Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) agreed with Paz, saying "there have always been post-Zionists and anti-Zionists; these people are anti-Zionists." The same day, Lapid pledged to lower prices so as to prevent the economic draw bringing Israelis to Berlin.

Avichai Shikli, head of the Tavor Mechina (pre-university school) in Nazereth Illit, told Arutz Sheva the Facebook campaign chose Berlin precisely out of spite, saying "there are still Holocaust survivors living among us, and this trend is a knife in their hearts."

And Cpl. Anshel Holzapfel, a 19-year-old Jewish lone soldier from Germany who left his family in Dusseldorf at the age of 18, also fired at the campaign, admitting that while life in Germany was "very good," Israel "is the land of the Jews." 

But all the while, the man behind the campaign - a 25 year-old Israeli living in Berlin by the name of Narkis Naor - insists that he was just frustrated by high food and housing prices in his home country. 

When you realize that the cost of living in Tiveria [Tiberias; seen as a luxury city - ed.] is the same as living in Berlin, you don't think twice," he explained. "I would prefer to live in Tel Aviv, but it's too expensive for me."

"Here I pay 30% less on food and rent," he continued. "I have money to go out, money to enjoy myself...it's a different world." 

Narkis maintained that he is not alone in embracing emigration for that reason. 

"For Israelis, the story is simple," he said. "They are saving money in the capital of the most powerful country in Europe so that they can buy an apartment in one of the most attacked countries in the Middle East. It's a bizarre situation."