Israeli lawmaker Miri Regev: “Heaven forbid” we compare Africans to human beings

An Israeli lawmaker who called African migrants a “cancer” during a 23 May demonstration in Tel Aviv that turned into a violent anti-African pogrom, has doubled down on her racist incitement by apologizing for likening African migrants in Israel to human beings.

Miri Regev, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, and a former official spokesperson for the Israeli army, made the comments in a 40-second YouTube video.

Dena Shunra translated Regev’s statement in full for The Electronic Intifada:

The phenomenon of infiltration is a phenomenon that is spreading everywhere in the State of Israel: South Tel Aviv, Arad, Eilat, Orr Akiva, Pardes Hanna.

I spoke of the phenomenon of infiltration that is spreading in the manner that the phenomenon of cancer spreads in the human body.

Heaven forbid, I did not talk about human beings and I did not compare them to human beings. If someone feels hurt by that statement, or understood my statement incorrectly, or if my statement were incorrectly interpreted, I apologize for this.

I say again, the infiltration phenomenon is a phenomenon that we must put boundaries to, we must handle, because it both constitutes a demographic threat on Israel and also constitutes a violation of the personal safety of our citizens.

Regev, like other Israeli leaders, uses the military term “infiltrators” to describe African migrants or refugees.

Video at first put up on Regev’s Facebook page then taken down

A note accompanying the Regev video from one Alon Uziel, who uploaded this copy to YouTube, provides some context:

MK Miri Regev posted the above video yesterday. What is said there at 15 seconds is entirely crazy – both that it is said (in error or otherwise) and because it just came up, obviously, without any of her people remarking about it. After too many hours of the video being on air and flooding Facebook, Regev’s people took down the video – but as they were so slow, I had time to download the original. Here it is. I’m not changing a thing, so people won’t say that any of the context was removed.

Regev previously “apologized” to cancer patients

Several days ago Regev supposedly “apologized” for her 23 May comments, however the transcript of her words provided by the JTA shows that she did not apologize to Africans:

When I compared the migrant worker phenomenon to cancer I was referring to the way the phenomenon had spread, and not anything else,” the Likud Party lawmaker wrote. “If anyone took it otherwise and was consequently offended, I apologize and I surely did not intend to hurt either Holocaust survivors or cancer patients.

In other words, Regev was apologizing to cancer sufferers for likening their disease to Africans.

Incitement from on high results in attacks on the streets

Regev’s odious comments are not exceptional, but have become the rule, with an array of top Israeli officials inciting against Africans and terming them an “existential” or “demographic” threat to Israel and demanding mass expulsions.

The high-level anti-African rhetoric and exaggerated media focus on the alleged pervasive criminality of migrants appears to be filtering down. Haaretz reports today:

The Tel Aviv district prosecutor brought charges on Thursday against a group of minors who are accused of organizing and carrying out a series of attacks againt Sudanese and Eritrean migrants in Tel Aviv.

According to the charges, the members of the gang attacked migrants using different weapons, and robbed them in some instances. The indictment is against 10 minors over racially-motivated attacks, and a further female minor is named over property offenses.

The attacks were carried out last month, reportedly with the aim of avenging attacks that had been publicized recently in the Israeli media.

Three of the instances described in the indictment took place near Hatikva market in south Tel Aviv. The gang attacked African migrants with boards and clubs, and in two of the incidents, the minors stole bicycles from the victims.

In another incident that also took place in the Hatikva neighborhood, the group attacked an Eritrean migrant with boards, stones, and iron chains, and beat him on the head and body. The victim required hospital treatment after the attack. Another victim was beaten with a motorcycle helmet, a golf club, and a metal chain near a park in the same neighborhood.

“Raped by foreigners”

In the latest example of sickening incitement, a headline in Israel’s Maariv newspaper quotes Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai:

Yishai: “Many women were raped by foreigners and are afraid to complain, so people won’t think they are AIDS carriers.”