Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia attend a demonstration of a ceremonial Passover holiday dinner known as a "seder" at an immigrant's center in Mevasseret Zion, near Jerusalem April 14, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Racial Hatred in Tel Aviv Recalls 'Dark Days' in Jewish History

Author: maariv Posted September 12, 2013

The sad thing about Knesset Member (Likud) and former IDF spokeswoman Brigadier General (res.) Miri Regev is that she does not really understand what the uproar is all about. When interviewed the other night [May 24] on TV's Erev Hadash (A New Evening) talk show, program hosts Erel Segal and Dan Margalit tried to explain it to her, but failed. Regev simply could not understand what was wrong with what she had said the night before at the rally against illegal African migrants in south Tel Aviv.

SummaryPrint Anger accumulating in South Tel Aviv exploded last week during what began as a demonstration against African immigrants, but turned quickly into a violent race riot. Ben Caspit denounces the right-wing Knesset members whose speeches during the demonstration stirred up racial hatred and prompted the "metastasis" of their rhetoric.
Author maariv Posted September 12, 2013
TranslatorHanni Manor

Segal can teach her a thing or two about the public campaign against illegal migrants. Segal is a polymath and well versed in history in general, and in the bleak history of the Jewish people in particular. Regev, apparently, is not.

Take Regev's horror show in south Tel Aviv the other night, shave her head, dress her in a brown outfit, and you'll get the spitting image of what our ancestors had to face in Europe in those dreadful dark days. It is the same terminology. It's only that back then, the Jews were a cancer in the heart of Europe.

Today, it’s the Sudanese or the Eritreans — as far as we, Israelis, are concerned, they are indistinguishable — who are, according to Regev, "a cancer in our society." And she can "understand" the upsurge of violence against them. Ah, so this is something she has no difficulty understanding. It's the sickening similarity to what the Jewish people went through over six decades ago that she somehow cannot get.

After all, what is it that she sought? Was it to catch the eye of the strong Likud branch in south Tel Aviv? Or was it to have her few moments of glory on TV's late night news? Or perhaps was it to ingratiate herself with the Feiglins (the head of Likud's Manhigut Yehudit [Jewish Leadership] faction, political hardliner Moshe Feiglin) and make some political profit through media exposure? Indeed, what else does a Likud back-bench politician have going for her?

The world belongs to the youth, to the raving and raging masses

As to the heart of the matter, the campaign against the "labor infiltrators" is an authentic struggle, motivated by a real plight, which requires an immediate, efficient and effective solution on the part of the government. The infiltrators themselves are not the culprits. They saw a breach and entered through it.

It is the government that is to blame for letting them in, for bringing them all the way to Tel Aviv, for allowing them to establish on its outskirts a small town of their own. They have started up businesses, opened coffee houses, set up shops and built a prospering community that keeps growing, encroaching on the poor, downtrodden neighborhoods of the city — but it's the government that is to be held accountable for the tragedy, not the participants.

Deputy prime minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor (Likud) told me the other day, following the demonstration, that the politicians should stage their protest in front of the government headquarters rather than confront the immigrants.

But who is that Meridor, anyway, compared to Regev, Danny Danon (Likud Knesset member chairing the Knesset Caucus to Solve the Infiltrator Problem, initiator of legislation to expel illegals and one of the speakers at the demonstration) and Yariv Levin (Likud Knesset member chairing the Lobby for the Prevention of Illegal Immigration to Israel)? As far as Regev and her associates are concerned, Meridor and the like simply don't count. And all that nonsense about the "hadar Betari," the exalted ideology of the right-wing Betar Zionist youth movement, and the ideological legacy of its Revisionist Zionist founder and leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and that of the late Israeli prime minister and Likud founder Menachem Begin, who authorized in 1977 Israeli citizenship for asylum-seeking Vietnamese boat people — all this belongs to the soft hearts of the past.

The world of today belongs to the youth, to the raving and raging, sweaty masses, to the speakers addressing inflamed, fist-waving crowds from suburban podiums, joining in with the menacing, hoarse voices calling for the immediate expulsion of those foreigners, for their deportation back to wherever they came from, for the extinction of the cancer that is spreading throughout our society, threatening to destroy us. All that any decent, sane person witnessing this horror show can do is go to the nearest corner and throw up in disgust.

What is happening to the Likud

Look at what is happening to the Likud — the party with the largest and most impressive cadre of illustrious leading figures, alas, with the darkest, most poisonous, seditious, hatred-dripping back benches in the present Israeli political scene.

The first include personages like ex-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Bogie Ya'alon (who on Thursday, May 24, courageously condemned, and not for the first time, the incitement against illegal migrants), Dan Meridor and Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, who have already said their word. (I am still waiting for Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Minister of environmental protection Gilad Erdan, Communications and Welfare & Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon, vice prime minister and Minister for regional development and the development of the Negev and the Galilee Silvan Shalom to speak up.)

However, in the Likud backyard, invasive and noxious weeds, in the form of Miri Regev and her associates, are spreading. They put the entire party to shame. They blacken our name in the eyes of the world. They don't know what they are talking about, but what do they care, as long as they return safely home to their Likud branch and possibly even secure a high place on the Likud list in the primaries.

The cancer spreading in the body is they themselves, and the body is that of the Likud. The cancerous metastases of hatred, hostility and incitement are spreading swiftly and violently in the body of the Likud and there is no cure for the malady. And that's precisely how it looks.

Mass airborne evacuation

It should be reiterated: The Israeli government is responsible for solving the "infiltrator" problem. The Netanyahu government has made several brave decisions — the most significant of which, the decision to erect the fence along the Israeli-Egyptian border. However, in many other areas, not enough has been done. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai is right when saying that since the illegal migrants have been brought to Tel Aviv and settled there, they cannot be barred from working. It is as if we were asking them to rob.

The government should solve the problem in any legal and moral way open to it, including mass airborne evacuation of the illegal migrants to wherever they wish to go. After all, had they made their quarters at the Schuster Center in the prestigious north Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ramat Aviv rather than in the old central station in south Tel Aviv, the problem would have been resolved a long time ago. There is no dispute about that. However, nobody really cares what goes on in south Tel Aviv or whether the colored people are theirs or ours (migrants or Jews) — as long as there is somebody to wash the dirty dishes at the back of the posh restaurants of Tel Aviv and we don't have to get involved with them.

This is the picture of our life here and given the circumstances, the tinderbox we are sitting on is bound to ultimately explode. We have now reached that ultimate point. The residents of south Tel Aviv are fed up, and justly so. They need help and sympathy and prompt solution of the problem. They don't need the gang of publicity-chasing opportunist politicians to incite and rouse them against those poor hapless migrants thrown in the streets. This is not the way. It is not our way. But go and explain it to Miri Regev.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/05/al-monitor-article.html

Ben Caspit
Columnist 

Ben Caspit is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel. On Twitter: @BenCaspit

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