This is a cross post from False Dichotomies
It is true that Jewish history does not necessarily mean that Israel should have a special responsibility to care for African refugees. It is also true that the residents of South Tel Aviv are right to complain that the burden of dealing with the refugees seems to be falling exclusively on their shoulders. And it is also true that residents of more privileged neighbourhoods should not respond to these complaints by accusing them of racism.
However, wherever you stand on this debate, there is no excuse for the demagoguery and incitement that we saw last night in South Tel Aviv. At a rally in HaTikvah neighbourhood, Likud MK Miri Regev said that “the Sudanese are a cancer in our body”. Her Knesset colleagues Danny Danon and Michael Ben-Ari expressed similar sentiments. Inevitably, this led to attacks on Africans and their businesses. In short, a pogrom.
The MKs who spoke at the rally should be charged with incitement. They said the same things that anti-Semites said about my great-grandparents when they arrived in London, and – yes – we do have a special responsibility in the world’s sole Jewish state to ensure that, however difficult the circumstances, we do not use this kind of rhetoric, because we know what the results will be.
Let’s debate the issue, try to form a responsible policy, and stop the incitement.
Gene adds: I’m not a fan of Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, but he got this right:
“It’s OK to protest and demand a solution from the government but once cannot be dragged into incitement and use words the anti-Semites use against us,” he said.