By Gideon Levy | May.31, 2012
Israel is both the most racist and most naive country in the West. Racist, because in no other country can politicians make remarks about migrants as they do here and still remain in office another day; naive, because only now has Israel discovered the problem that has been facing the “first world” for years. Only in Israel can a parliamentarian from the ruling party describe the migrants as a “cancer,” and, far worse, it is only in Israel that she could do so knowing that her contemptible racism would merely gain her support.
It is only Israel that does not have a migration policy; it is only in Israel that the migrants are still officially known as “infiltrators”; it is only in Israel that the government incites the weaker classes against them and after violence breaks out, the prime minister makes do with a weak remark that “there is no place for this.” In fact, there is place for violence against the migrants: After all, what did we think? That when they are described as a cancer and called out for their diseases, threats, and dangers that there would not be an outbreak of violent crimes against them? That after all the intimidation and incitement, fear would not emerge in the poor neighborhoods and give rise to violence?
The residents of the neighborhoods are scared because there was someone who frightened them. They show hatred because there was someone who sowed hatred in their hearts for foreigners, and in particular black people. These black people are less dangerous than the residents were told but it is too late now because the seeds of hatred have already sprouted.
The government is conducting this fear campaign like it conducted other fear campaigns because this is the way it diverts public attention and anger from its failures. In this manner, it adopts the bad old ways of dark regimes, inciting against foreigners and frightening people about imaginary or exaggerated dangers so it can evade responsibility. Just as with other fateful issues, so it is with the subject of migration: The government’s policy is a non-policy, it is a case of burying one’s head in the sand and then screaming hysterically when everything explodes in one’s face.
After Israel carries out this mass experiment with human beings – allowing then to stay here but not allowing them to work, while showing no regard for their fundamental rights – it pretends to be surprised at a few criminal acts. When dealing with migrants, all the masks are pulled off. Racism has become the new political correctness in Israel.
Some 1 million Russians came here, about half of them non-Jews, and Israel knew how to absorb them. They are white. Tens of thousands of Africans came here and they are the new enemy. They are black.
However, in this new world, Israel can no longer avoid contributing its part to the absorption of migrants and refugees, even if they entered the country without permission. Millions of migrants have flooded numerous countries and they knew how to deal with them. Tens of thousands of Jews “infiltrated” countries of refuge during the years of darkness; in 1948, Palestinian refugees flooded the surrounding countries, and since then the flow has not stopped. Jordan is swamped not only with Palestinian refugees from then but also with Iraqi and Syrian refugees of today, and Turkey, too, has absorbed thousands of refugees from Syria. France’s population is becoming blacker and Britain’s is becoming more Muslim. This is the rough way of the world and Israel is part of it.
The incitement against the migrants not only ignores Jewish history and global reality, it ignores the reality of the future as well. And what will happen if one day the government’s campaigns of fear turn out to be true, heaven forbid, and Israel indeed faces an existential threat and tens of thousands of Israelis try to escape from here? What shall we say then to the world if it closes its doors to Israelis just as the doors are now being closed in the faces of the African migrants, many of whom are fleeing for their lives? How long will this perverse claim go on – that “Israel’s situation is different.” No one believes Israel must open its doors to all those who are knocking at them. No country has such an obligation. The influx of refugees here must be regulated, the migrants who have already arrived must be classified according to their distress and the dangers they would face if they returned to their homeland. Those who have the right to remain, must be taken care of – not with violence and not with hatred, which will not solve a thing, but by giving them the possibility of a decent life. Meanwhile the migrants are less of a danger than what people think. The real danger is the way they are being treated.
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