The year was 1935 and hostilities toward Jewish people were becoming increasingly prevalent in every aspect of German life. Following a speech by Adolf Hitler at an annual rally in Nuremberg, the Nuremberg Laws were adopted which restricted Jews from voting, intermarrying with Germans, frequenting certain public spaces and stripped them of their citizenship. The premise of these laws was to “preserve the German people”. Hitler had been preaching about the “Jewish problem” for years. Fifteen years prior to the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws in another speech he claimed:
“And here is one thing that perhaps distinguishes us from you [Austrians] as far as our programme is concerned, although it is very much in the spirit of things: our attitude to the Jewish problem.
For us, this is not a problem you can turn a blind eye to –one to be solved by small concessions. For us, it is a problem of whether our nation can ever recover its health, whether the Jewish spirit can ever really be eradicated. Don’t be misled into thinking you can fight adisease without killing the carrier, without destroying the bacillus. Don’t think you can fight racial tuberculosis without taking care to rid the nation of the carrier of that racial tuberculosis. This Jewish contamination will not subside, this poisoning of the nation will not end, until the carrier himself, the Jew, has been banished from our midst.”
I wish to focus on the bolded text in this speech and fast forward to comments which were made recently by a government official of a country that, today, is facing what it considers an “immigrant problem”:
“If hundreds of thousands of migrant workers come here now, they will bring with them a profusion of diseases: hepatitis, measles, tuberculosis, AIDS and drug [addiction].”
“Most of the African refugees in Israel engage in crime and should be rounded up in prisons or holding facilities and then deported from the country.”
Of course when reading Hitler’s comments made almost a century ago in reference to the Jewish people we are appalled. We know those words led to the creation of a hostile environment for Jews and subsequently led to the Holocaust. But what of the latter statements made by Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai? Are we not equally as outraged? Should we not be? What is the difference?
The Sudanese refugees who have fled to Israel are literally facing genocide back in their homeland. According to a 2011 United Nations report, more than 1,800 Sudanese men, women and children were killed in violent acts. Earlier this year an estimated 3,000 were slaughtered in an outbreak of violence raising the cumulative number of deaths during this conflict to over 2 million and hundreds of thousands displaced, seeking asylum.
Imagine, being ostracized, persecuted, even murdered and rounded up and put in concentration camps simply because of your ethnicity. Surely those of Jewish descent can relate. After all, anti-Semitism was the main premise behind establishing of the State of Israel. It was the driving force behind the hatred of Jews during the 1930′s which led them to flee to Canada, Great Britain, Switzerland, France and other countries. But what if the government leaders had told them they weren’t welcome — that they had no place for those seeking refuge?
Knesset Member Michael Ben Ari opposing the idea of granting asylum and/or status to African immigrants and migrants of other countries said in an interview in 2010 the following:
“I am willing to pack the Fillipinos’ bags for them. Let them go home.”
I wonder how Ben Ari would feel had his grandparents been told the same. What if President Manuel L. Quezon instead of establishing an open door policy and building a Jewish housing community for the migration of Jews fleeing the rod of the Reich said the:
illegalJewish infiltrators from AfricaGermany is extremely serious and threatens Israel’sThe Philippines social fabric and national security. If we don’t stop the problem, 60,000 infiltrators are liable to become 600,000, and cause the negation of the State of IsraelThe Philippines as a JewishRoman Catholic and democratic state.” - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
It is comments such as this and those by Yishai and Ben Ari which have incited anti-migrant protests and recent acts of violence against the Sudanese people in Tel Aviv. Protests which ironically parallel Kristallnacht. Hate filled, venomous speech by Israel’s leading politicians including its head of state have fermented into acts of vandalism, verbal as well as physical assaults, leaving a dark and heinous stain on Israeli society. Somehow I don’t think this shameful behavior coincides with the book of Leviticus Chapter 19.
“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger who dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were sojourners in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
I suppose our kippot donning, Torah quoting, sanctimonious leaders conveniently missed this verse. The State of Israel has decided to show these 21st century sojourners from Africa just how much they love them by building a 250 acre containment camp in the southern region next to the Egyptian border. The price tag on this detention center – 250 million shekels. Well if money is an expression of love, suffice it to say that Israel must luuuuuv its immigrants.