In a shocking, racist outburst, an Israeli cabinet minister has described Arabs as a “damaged nation”, in remarks reportedly made at a conference in the Tel Aviv-area city Or Yehuda on Sunday.
Israel’s Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, who posted the comments on his Facebook profile, said:
As long as the Arab nation continues to be a damaged nation that continues to invest in terror infrastructures, in education to hatred, and in the welfare of families of martyrs, there will be no peace.
Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel. Not only is Edelstein a settler, but he also supports initiatives like the ‘Lobby for Greater Israel’, whose members want “to hold onto all of Judea and Samaria”.
Ironically, given how it would be received if a member of Congress or European minister said similar remarks about “the Jewish nation”, Minister Edelstein plays a crucial role in the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) as a member of the body’s steering committee.
In October, he was in London for an ICCA meeting hosted by Labour MP John Mann, co-founder of the ICCA and chair of the UK-focused All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPGAA).
Edelstein is committed to the conflation of political actions like Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and antisemitism. At an international “combating antisemitism” conference he co-organised with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in December 2009, Edelstein told delegates:
We must repeat again and again these basic facts - TO BE ‘anti-Israel’ IS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC. TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL, ISRAELI PROFESSORS and ISRAELI businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism! Anti-Israel hysteria is anti-Semitic hysteria. They are one and the same. [Ed: Upper case letters in the transcript]
He has also drawn parallels between the Goldstone Report and the rise of Hitler, saying that the UN investigation into war crimes is “simply a type of anti-Semitism”.
While none of this has dissuaded members of the ICCA from working with the Minister, how will they react now, given the unapologetically anti-Arab views of someone apparently coordinating a fight against racism?
[h/t to Mya Guarnieri for finding the Facebook status]
Since this post was first published, Israeli blogger Yossi Gurvitz has covered MK Edelstein’s remarks for +972 (note that the word I put as ‘damaged’, Gurvitz translates as ‘deplorable’, i.e. Edelstein describes Arabs as a “deplorable nation”). Gurvitz sought clarification with the following result:
I phoned the minister’s office for comment, and asked his spokesman: “Are you aware of the fact there are some 80 million Arabs in the world, from Sudan to Syria?” He replied: “Yes, there are – and the minister meant them all.”
We await a response from the ICCA.