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Israelis urged to enjoy the cheap life in Berlin

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Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks in Berlin in September at a rally against anti-Semitism. Photo: DPA
08:44 CEST+02:00
A group of Israelis living in Berlin has shocked compatriots back home by urging them to move to Germany as a much cheaper alternative to living in the Jewish state.

"It is time to immigrate to Berlin," says the group's Hebrew-language Facebook page entitled "Let's Immigrate to Berlin" which offers practical tips for those seeking an alternative to the high cost of living in Israel.

But the page has triggered anger in Israel, where leaving is regarded by many as a form of desertion.
 
And to abandon the biblical land of milk and honey for cheaper dairy products in the birthplace of the Nazi Holocaust has touched a particularly raw nerve.
 
High rents and food costs, particularly that of cottage cheese, an Israeli staple, were among the triggers of a popular protest movement that peaked in 2011 with record numbers of Israelis from all walks of life taking to the streets and squatting in urban tent camps.
 
"The page is organized by a group of Israelis who understand how you feel, who have also suffered from the extreme cost of accommodation and food in Israel," the group's page says.
   
"We help you to fit in and acclimatize in the new city, a place where there are no worries about making ends meet. Where there is no need to choose between buying cottage cheese at the supermarket or sending your daughter to enrichment activities."
   
The site shows what it says is a typical grocery receipt, showing items such as orange juice, milk, dairy desserts, pasta and cheese at prices far lower than the cheapest Israeli discount chain.
   
The existence of the site made the front page of Israeli tabloid Maariv on Monday, provoking the rage of political columnist Ben Caspit.
   
"Let's get into the incomprehensible fact that 75 years after Berlin shook under Nazi boots and...Hitler's SS, it's as if nothing happened," he wrote.
   
"Israelis are flocking back to Berlin. It's hard for them here, in the only Jewish country... They're comfortable in Berlin. Out of all the places in the world, in Berlin."
   
The phenomenon is not a new one.
   
Just a year ago, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who swept into government on the coattails of the 2011 protests, decried "all the people who are fed up and leaving for Europe."
   
"I have little patience for people who are willing to throw into the garbage the only country the Jews have, because it's more comfortable in Berlin," he posted on Facebook.
 
And Jewish people in Berlin and Germany have faced a rise in anti-Semitism, particularly during Israel's campaign in Gaza this summer.
 

Story continues below…

Synagogues have been attacked and people wearing skull caps abused. 
 
In June and July, more than 180 anti-Jewish attacks were reported in Germany, prompting a rally in Berlin in September against anti-Semitism
 
 

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