This newspaper reported: Israelis are the fiercest opponents in the West against accepting refugees, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. Israelis object to refugees despite the clarification that these are people fleeing violence and war, not economic refugees. The only country with a similar percentage of opposition is Hungary. Less hostile than them, toward the bottom of a table that includes 18 countries, are South Africa and Russia.
We were amazed. Shame on our nation of refugees, a disgrace for the state of the Jews. But what’s the source of this amazement? Who needs a survey to know that racism, nationalism and ethnocentricity have taken over Israel? Where, with the exception of self-image, is the difference between Israel, Hungary and Putin’s Russia?
The Israel of our imagination must speak out loudly amid the strengthening of the far right and the spread of xenophobia, processes of de-democratization, the dismantling of international institutions and the separation from the logic of human rights and international law.
But under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has lost its status as a country that has to warn about worrisome processes. In the Israeli consciousness, Israelis are refugees and Israel is a Jewish refugee camp with an army and high-tech. So there’s no reason to take part in a global effort to solve the European migrant crisis. The chosen people have a book of coupons that grant it a moral discount.
This is what Netanyahu said at a ceremony for the beginning of the school year at the Breuer School in Yad Binyamin: “This community absorbed people who were uprooted from Gush Katif” – the settlers who were evacuated from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
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“Their lives could have been a tragedy .… But the State of Israel … and all the citizens of Israel acted together so that the people uprooted from Gush Katif would not be refugees in their own land.” Now everything is clear. Israel is taking part in the effort to solve the global refugee crisis: Sweden took in 163,000 African refugees and Israel took in the 8,000 refugees from Gush Katif.
If you ask Netanyahu, Israel has done more than any other country in accepting refugees. “Haven’t refugees come to us from all sorts of lands?” continued Netanyahu in deceiving the first-graders, as if Israel hadn’t been founded precisely to accept those refugees.
“Did Holocaust survivors not come to us who were torn from their lands? …. They were uprooted, survived and came here. Did we let them remain refugees? No, we absorbed them, and also those from Arab countries, who were uprooted because of the same war, the War of Independence. Hundreds of thousands of Jews …. Have we let them remain refugees? No. We turned them into citizens who contribute and are equal in our country.”
Netanyahu wasn’t talking about African, or Syrian, refugees, he was talking about Palestinian refugees. They were just a preface to the despicable punch line: “That is what has happened with the Palestinians; over there they created a special institution 70 years ago – not to absorb the refugees but to perpetuate the refugees.” You have to be a certified scoundrel to devote your life to preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state and then apply racism to tell the Palestinians that they’re perpetuating their refugee status.
If the Pew Center study had fallen into Netanyahu’s hands he would have laughed in the face of those who don’t understand that “in reality, everything is the opposite.” Israel is in first place! It’s only the sourpusses – in Israel and Spain, in Germany and Sweden – who refuse to understand that the hierarchy of values has changed.
What did U.S. President Donald Trump tell his Mexican counterpart when he tried to force him to pay for a wall? “Look at Israel.” Slamming the country’s gates in the face of the weak goes over well today, and Israel under Netanyahu’s “leadership” is the pioneer. Israel is the darkness unto the gentiles, but in a positive sense. Darkness is the new light, it’s the will of the people. It’s as democratic as can be.