Lifestyle & Belief

Israeli legislator suggests sending human rights activists to 'camps'


Israelis, mainly of Ethiopian origin, demonstrate against discrimination of Ethiopian immigrants in front of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) on January 18, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel. According to Ethiopian residents of the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, housing committees in the city have been refusing to sell them apartments.


Uriel Sinai

An Israeli Member of Knesset has suggested that human rights workers that aid African migrants to Israel be thrown into "the camps" where they would then "work," Haaretz reported.

Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, a MK from the Kadima party, suggested the move during a heated debate over African migrants. 

She suggested that human rights activists are "phonies," Haaretz wrote, "who would happily deport Jews they did not like, settlers and the ultra-Orthodox - and keep the Africans here in Israel."

"[F]irst of all I would jail them all for incitement of Jews against Jews. This is Solution Number One: to jail all human rights [activists]," Berkovich continued. "We can transport them afterwards to those same places that we're building, the camps. Let them work there."

Israel is building camps to house the thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly from Africa, residing there.

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The suggestion, perhaps tone deaf in a country that was founding in part as a haven for survivors of the Holocaust, illustrates the intensity with which the country debates African immigration to Israel.

Just last week, a protest against African migrant workers turned violent. "Demonstrators attacked African passersby while others lit garbage cans on fire and smashed car windows," Haaretz reported in another article. 

"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," Bradley Burston wrote.

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