Who Would This Israeli Lawmaker Round Up and Send to 'The Camps?' It Could Be You

Kadima MK proposes transporting human rights activists to a detention camp, adding 'Let them work there.'

Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston
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Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich. Remember the name. She's a media and marketing expert. She's also a member of Knesset from the ruling coalition's centrist Kadima party. And if you live in Israel and your politics are not to her liking, she may want to round you up and send you to the camps.

Shamalov-Berkovich's offhand but jarring proposal to widen the scope of desert detention camps the government intends to build for "infiltrators," took center stage at a Tuesday Knesset hearing on issues surrounding African refugee asylum seekers and work migrants in Israel.

Her statement came during a broad attack on human rights activists, leftist politicians, kibbutznikim and others in Israel who have supported and aided the Africans and attempted to thwart mass deportation.

Shamalov-Berkovich called the Africans' supporters phonies - who would happily deport Jews they did not like, settlers and the ultra-Orthodox - and keep the Africans here in Israel.

"These phonies - first of all I would jail them all for incitement of Jews against Jews. This is Solution Number One: to jail all human rights [activists]."

"We can transport them afterwards to those same places that we're building, the camps. Let them work there."

According to Shamalov-Berkovich, "There are human rights organizations which, if you'd allow them today to take planes or buses and carry out a 'transfer' on Haredim and settlers, they would – all of them – be the first to load them onto the buses."

"They'd be the first to give them a sandwich with bread and chocolate and transfer the Haredim and settlers out of the state of Israel."

"There are leftist MKs who speak about Haredim and settlers in an atrocious manner," she continued. "This is incitement and bottomless self-hatred. They'd be delighted to carry out a transfer [forced expulsion] of Haredim and settlers, and to leave the infiltrators here."

Ironically, Shamalov-Berkovich first came to wide public attention after a 2010 speech which suggested that her own attitudes about Jews were somewhat less than positive.

Declaring that one ofIsraeli society's worst problems was "a crisis of trust," Shamalov-Berkovich said "No one trusts anyone, and it's clear why, it's because we're a state of Jews, and Jews are combinatorim [shady businessmen, manupulators], and have remained combinatorim. They came to Israel and for the moment forgot that this was their own country, and kept on l'com'ben [engaging in shady deals]. Sixty years later, it's come back to us like a boomerang in our face."

One thing's for certain. There is no shortage of boomerangs here. For example, the idea of addressing societal issues by sending mass groups of people to camps.

Perhaps Shamalov-Berkovich doesn't see this as a problem, but she should ask around. And while she's at it, she might recall the efforts that Jews worldwide made to free fellow Jews incarcerated for having, and acting upon, incorrect opinions in the gulags of the Soviet Union of her birth.

The world doesn't need another gulag. Neither does Israel. It needs a coherent policy on refugees and asylum seekers. And it needs to stop rewarding the politicians, whose only real weapon against hatred is more hatred.

Years from now, Shamalov-Berkovich may recall that this was the period in which first they came for the Africans. And not only did she not speak out, she spoke in favor of coming for more.

When someday they finally do come for her, you can be absolutely certain that there will be no one left to speak out for her. And that she will have absolutely no idea why not.

MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich, right, with MK Alex Miller at a Knesset hearing in January, 2012.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi



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