[News] Israeli leaders delight in Europe’s cruelty toward refugees

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 18 14:00:11 EDT 2015


  Israeli leaders delight in Europe’s cruelty toward refugees

Rania Khalek <https://electronicintifada.net/people/rania-khalek> 18 
September 2015
*https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israeli-leaders-delight-europes-cruelty-toward-refugees*

As most of the world looks on in horror at Europe’s atrocious response 
to refugees escaping war and persecution in the Middle East and Africa, 
some Israeli officials are quietly reveling in the chaos.

Dore Gold <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/dore-gold>, 
director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, expressed optimism 
that the refugee influx will shift Europe to the right, making it more 
sympathetic to Israel’s “security” justification for its ongoing 
colonization of Palestine.

“Israel always faced the problem in the past that its national security 
perspective was completely out of sync with how Europeans were viewing 
the emergence of the European community and the borderless world that 
was emerging,” the American-born hardliner told 
<http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Seeing-eye-to-eye-416085> 
/The Jerusalem Post/.

“In the European models that existed 25 or 30 years ago, it is kind of 
difficult to hear an Israeli argument. But now things may be beginning 
to change a little,” posited Gold.

“The European perspective is beginning to sound a little bit more like 
Israel’s perspective on security issues, compared to what it was in the 
past.”


    Echoes of the Holocaust

Images of refugees being corralled in trains, tracked with numbers on 
their forearms 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/04/world/europe/czech-republic-criticized-after-officers-mark-migrants-with-numbers.html?ref=topics&_r=0>, 
locked away and fed like zoo animals 
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/hungary/11857695/Video-shows-refugees-fed-like-animals-in-pen-in-Hungary-camp.html> in 
overcrowded camps 
<http://http://abcnews.go.com/International/inside-abysmal-refugee-detention-camps-hungary/story?id=33685148> and 
blocked with razor wire 
<https://www.rt.com/news/315589-razor-wire-hungary-germany/> fences from 
entering Hungary have recalled memories of Europe’s darkest chapter.

All the while, refugees continue to die en masse on perilous journeys to 
Europe, sometimes drowning 
<http://news.yahoo.com/migrant-tragedy-off-greece-athens-dismisses-criticism-131745580.html> 
on rickety boats by sea and other times suffocating 
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/refugees-suffocate-dead-truck-austria_55defe14e4b08dc094867ca8a> in 
trucks on the side of highways.

Frequently overlooked is the fact that these deaths are a direct 
consequence of European border policies designed 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/europes-border-policy-designed-push-refugees-sea> 
to make migration as unsafe as possible.

The only thing less acknowledged is the root catalyst.

Rapacious policies advanced by wealthy nations in the increasingly gated 
Global North have destabilized and fueled the very unrest that has 
produced the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War 
<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-33178035>.

It’s no coincidence that many of the refugees at Europe’s doorstep are 
fleeing unrest in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan — all countries the 
US and its allies have directly and indirectly pillaged and destabilized.


    Keeping Europe Christian

While there is plenty of blame to go around for the current crisis, 
Hungary’s actions — coupled with the jingoistic rhetoric of its 
right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban — have provoked the most 
widespread revulsion.

Muslim refugees must be kept out of Europe “to keep Europe Christian,” 
said 
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/03/muslims-threaten-europes-christian-identity-hungarys-leader-says/> 
Orban in an opinion piece urging Germans not to welcome Muslim refugees.

“We shouldn’t forget that the people who are coming here grew up in a 
different religion and represent a completely different culture,” he 
insisted. “Most are not Christian, but Muslim. … That is an important 
question, because Europe and European culture have Christian roots.”

A statement from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN’s high commissioner for 
human rights, attributed Hungary’s “callous 
<http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/17/us-europe-migrants-hungary-zeid-idUSKCN0RH1WS20150917>” 
and “illegal” treatment of refugees to “the xenophobic and anti-Muslim 
views that appear to lie at the heart of current Hungarian government 
policy.”

As it turns out, Orban’s ruling party, Fidesz, is smitten with Israel, 
particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. During a 
visit to Israel in 2005, Orban reportedly declared, “Likud is our 
natural ideological partner 
<http://hungarianfreepress.com/2015/08/22/ideas-from-israel-a-look-at-finkelstein-and-birthright-hungary/>.”

He has since adopted several Israeli practices.

Inspired by Birthright 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/birthright-israel>, a program that 
sends young American Jews on free trips to Israel in hopes they will 
immigrate, Orban launched a Hungarian Birthright program 
<http://reconnecthungary.org> for North Americans of Hungarian descent.

Orban also tapped Netanyahu’s former political advisor, Arthur 
Finkelstein, to help him consolidate power.

Finkelstein is a mud-slinging Republican strategist 
<http://www.haaretz.com/news/israeli-elections-2013/israeli-elections-news-features/understanding-the-enigma-of-arthur-finkelstein-unseen-power-broker.premium-1.483807> 
from the United States who has advised countless rightwing candidates 
both domestically and abroad. They include the failed presidential 
candidate Mitt Romney and more recently Avigdor Lieberman 
<http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/04/11/a-tribute-to-arthur-j-finkelstein-strategist-for-u-s-conservatives-and-israeli-prime-ministers/>, 
leader of Israel’s proto-fascist party Yisreal Beiteinu 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/yisrael-beiteinu> (Israel Our Home).

In recent years Fidesz has deepened ties with the far right and openly 
anti-Semitic Jobbik party 
<http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/ruling-hungarian-fidesz-party-adopts-policies-of-far-right-jobbik-party-a-880590.html>.

Hungary is joined by Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic 
<http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/09/10/the-stunning-hypocrisy-of-mitteleuropa-refugees-poland-hungary-czech-republic/> 
in refusing to take non-Christian refugees.

Leaders in Poland are said to be appealing to widespread anti-Muslim 
sentiment among the populace as election season approaches.

More than half of those polled earlier this month agreed that allowing 
Arabs and Turks into Poland would be “detrimental 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/opinion/poland-shouldnt-shut-out-refugees.html>” 
to the country. Some people have even suggested reopening Auschwitz and 
sending the refugees there, prompting an investigation by Poland’s 
prosecutor general.

In Warsaw last weekend, thousands of right-wing protesters took to the 
streets, chanting, “Today refugees, tomorrow terrorists! 
<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugees-crisis-pro-and-antirefugee-protests-take-place-in-poland--in-pictures-10499352.html>“ and 
“Poland, free of Islam!”

To make their point, the rightwing demonstrators used a cartoon 
originally crafted by pro-Israel propogandists to portray Israeli 
soldiers as morally superior to Palestinians, who are shown using 
civilians as human shields. In reality it is Israel that uses 
Palestinians 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israeli-army-uses-gaza-children-human-shields>, 
including children, as human shields.

    Rightwing protesters in Poland used anti-Palestinian Israeli
    propaganda cartoon to agitate against Muslim refugees
    pic.twitter.com/kK2lZoFwLU <http://t.co/kK2lZoFwLU>

    — Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) September 15, 2015
    <https://twitter.com/RaniaKhalek/status/643641616620744704>

Back in Israel, fans of the Maccabi Tel Aviv football team unfurled a 
giant banner that read, “Refugees not welcome! 
<http://www.haaretz.com/life/sports/.premium-1.675775>”


    Keeping Israel Jewish

As Hungary was making headlines for its racist pledge to build an 
anti-refugee fence, Netanyahu announced the construction of a wall along 
the Jordanian border to block a potential influx of Syrian refugees. 
Once the barrier is completed by the end of 2015, Israel will be 
entirely walled off 
<http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/09/daily-chart-10?fsrc=scn/fb/te/bl/ed/moreneighboursmakemorefences>. 


Israeli officials claim they are helping Syrians by providing them with 
medical treatment instead of asylum. But this has only involved around 
1,500 people, most of them fighters linked to al-Qaida’s affiliate 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/why-has-israel-embraced-al-qaidas-branch-syria/14619> in 
Syria. In any case, patching up the wounded, fighter or not, and then 
sending them back into a war zone, as Israel has done, does not qualify 
as asylum.

Of the five states that border Syria, Israel is the only one that has 
not taken in any Syrian refugees 
<http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-migrants-scorecard-20150908-story.html> 
for reasons identical to Hungary’s.

“Israel is a very small country. It has no demographic depth and has no 
geographic breadth,” Netanyahu has told 
<http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-israel-not-indifferent-but-too-small-to-take-in-refugees/> 
his cabinet. “We must protect our borders against illegal immigrants and 
against the perpetrators of terrorism. We cannot allow Israel to be 
flooded with infiltrators.”

“Demographic depth” refers to Israel’s ideological imperative to 
maintain its Jewish majority, which was engineered by the premeditated 
mass expulsion of more than 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Zionist 
militias in 1948. In turn, Israel barred Palestinian refugees from 
returning and labeled those who tried to come back as “infiltrators.”

That is why millions of Palestinians continue to languish in squalid 
refugee camps scattered across the Middle East nearly seventy years 
later, making it the longest running refugee crisis in modern history.

As “proud Zionist” Noah Arbit argued 
<http://http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/To-honor-thy-neighbor-416333> in 
/The Jerusalem Post,/ “absorbing any amount of Syrian refugees will only 
increase this demographic threat.”

Israel’s refusal to grant asylum to non-Jewish African refugees 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/african-refugees-israel> is rooted 
in the same exclusivist logic.

Openly referred to as “infiltrators 
<http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-israel-could-be-overrun-by-african-infiltrators-1.431589>” 
by Israeli government officials, African refugees have, like 
Palestinians, been labeled a threat because they are not Jewish.

Israel not only denies them asylum 
<http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8042>, 
it imprisons and deports 
<http://http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/12/us-israel-africans-idUSBRE85B0IY20120612> 
them back to the horrors they escaped, where some have since been 
tortured and even killed 
<http://972mag.com/exclusive-israel-deports-most-asylum-seekers-to-home-countries-where-they-face-death-or-prison/110614/>.

In 2013, Israel completed construction of a wall along its border with 
Egypt to block African refugees from entering the country. Hungary and 
Bulgaria have reportedly expressed interest 
<http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/03/us-europe-migrants-israel-fences-idUSKCN0R31GE20150903> 
in buying Israeli equipment for their own borders.

Slamming Netanyahu’s embarrassingly open indifference, Isaac Herzog, 
leader of the opposition Zionist Union, wrote 
<http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.674717> on his 
Facebook page, “You’ve forgotten what it means to be Jews. Refugees. 
Persecuted. The prime minister of the Jewish people does not close his 
heart and the gate when people are fleeing for their lives from 
persecution, with their babies in their hands.”

It is difficult to take Herzog seriously given his party’s indifference 
towards Israel’s cruel treatment of African refugees, not to mention its 
refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return, a policy Herzog’s 
Labor (part of the Zionist Union) instituted.

Zeev Elkin <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/zeev-elkin>, Israel’s 
immigration minister, slammed Herzog’s appeal as an “attempt to bring 
<http://http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Netanyahu-Israel-not-indifferent-but-cant-absorb-Syrian-or-African-refugees-415374> 
the [Palestinian] ‘right of return’ through the back door. That is not 
responsible, and it is forbidden that it should happen.”

In the case of Palestinian refugees, the Israeli response is arguably 
more absurd. Israel is not denying Palestinian refugees asylum but 
rather their right to return 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/right-return> to land they were 
violently expelled from.

It’s hard to imagine anyone arguing against the right of Syrians to 
return to Syria should they choose to do so when the country is no 
longer engulfed in war. Yet the idea that Palestinians should have the 
right to return to their homeland is considered by many to be 
preposterous, even anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, under Israel’s discriminatory Law of Return, the purpose of 
which is to boost the Jewish majority, a Jew from anywhere in the world 
with no connection to land can immigrate to Israel.

In June, Elkin beseeched French Jews to “come home 
<http://www.timesofisrael.com/come-home-israeli-minister-urges-french-jews-amid-terror-wave/>,” insisting 
“Anti-Semitism is growing, terrorism is running rampant, and according 
to reports, ISIS is committing murder in broad daylight.”

“We are prepared to open our arms to the Jews of France,” he said, 
adding, “This is a national mission of the highest priority.”

A month later, Elkin greeted 221 new Jewish immigrants 
<http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/326071/minister-of-absorption-zeev-elkin-to-greet-nefesh-bnefesh-arrivals.html> 
who left comfortable lives in the United States and Canada to settle in 
historic Palestine. A total of 4,000 North American Jews are expected in 
Israel by the end of 2015.

The similarities between European far right and Israeli government 
policies were best distilled by Arnon Soffer 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/arnon-soffer>, an Israeli 
demographer nicknamed the Arab counter 
<http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/The-European-refugee-crisis-will-not-end-well-says-Israeli-professor-415503> 
due to his compulsive fixation on the “demographic threat” posed by 
Palestinian babies.


    Bizarre paradox

Rejecting calls to accept Syrian refugees, Soffer explained, “We are a 
very small country … please leave me some space for additional Jews to 
come.”

He went on to relate Israel’s anti-refugee imperative with Europe’s.

“Europe potentially can open its doors and accept more and more 
refugees, but if Europe says no, I can understand because they are 
afraid [of] the Muslims,” said Soffer. “This is a clash of civilizations 
and it will not happen in Africa or Asia. It will happen in France, 
Hungary and will eventually reach England and Germany.”

Orban and Netanyahu share a clear affinity for jingoistic saber rattling 
against Muslims, but the same cannot be said for the response their 
behavior elicits.

While Orban has been likened to a Nazi 
<http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/12/us-europe-migrants-idUSKCN0RC0GL20150912>, 
Israeli leaders have been granted special immunity from abiding by the 
most basic standards of equality, not in spite of the Holocaust but 
rather because of it. The US State Department has gone so far as to 
classify <http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/fs/2010/122352.htm> as a form 
of anti-Semitism “comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of 
the Nazis.”

This has created a bizarre paradox where the Holocaust is invoked to 
demand inclusiveness and sympathy for refugees in Europe, while being 
simultaneously deployed to excuse racist Israeli practices. Indeed, 
Israel’s existence as an exclusionary settler state is deceptively 
justified as a necessary response to the world’s indifference to the 
Nazi genocide of European Jews.

Consequently, language that is being condemned when spoken by European 
leaders is routinely excused when uttered in reference to Israel and 
Palestine. When the subject matter is Palestinian refugees, 
liberal rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic becomes indistinguishable 
from sentiments typically relegated to the far right.

Warning about the threat posed by “higher Palestinian population growth 
and fertility rates 
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/can-israel-remain-a-democracy/2015/03/20/49d766a8-cf06-11e4-a2a7-9517a3a70506_story.html>,” 
as /Washington Post/ columnist Dana Milbank did in February, is 
perfectly acceptable mainstream discourse.

The same goes for describing Palestinian refugees as a “demographic 
death warrant 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/world/middleeast/netanyahu-lashes-out-at-criticism-of-israel.html>,” 
as /New York Times/ Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren did this past 
summer.

Hungary’s Orban would certainly approve.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20150918/55d5aa63/attachment.html>


More information about the News mailing list