Communal leaders condemn racist statement by Israeli MK

  • Oren Hazan
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) have unequivocally condemned the racist remarks made by Israeli Likud Party Member of the Knesset (MK) Oren Hazan.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Aug 10, 2018

In a video posted on the United Kingdom branch of Likud’s Facebook page this week, Hazan insulted Africans, saying they “had no culture”. He went on to say that Israel should stop African refugees from having children.

“We condemn all forms of racism and hate,” said SAJBD Chair Wendy Kahn. “These comments are reprehensible.” Her sentiments were echoed by SAZF National Chair Ben Swartz, who said that his organisation condemned the despicable utterances in no uncertain terms. “Such sentiments have absolutely no place in any society,” said Swartz, “and he [Hazan] deserves to be treated with the contempt that he deserves.”

Their responses followed the statement issued on Wednesday by the South African branch of Save Israel Stop the Occupation (SISO) that called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “control” his Knesset members. “SISO(SA) is horrified by those statements,” it read. “This is an extremely racist attack [that] one would not expect from a member of Israel’s government. This reflects abysmally on the morality of Israel itself. The effect of these remarks threatens the situation of Jewish communities in Africa.”

The SISO statement closes with a demand for an immediate retraction and apology from Netanyahu, and for the disciplining of Hazan to prevent a similar recurrence in the future.

Hazan made the remarks on 27 July in an interview with Israeli-Australian, pro-Israel activist Avi Yemini. He went on to say that African immigrants were a threat to Israel, and would destroy the country. “If we don’t kick them out, they will kick us out. We need to destroy the problem when it is still small,” said Hazan.

In the interview, Hazan said Africans were not refugees, but economic migrants, and proceeded to make other derogatory remarks, all of which remain to be condemned by Netanyahu.

This is not the first time Hazan has landed himself in hot water for making offensive remarks. In February this year, he was suspended by the Israeli Ethics Committee from the Knesset and its committees for six months over a series of sexist, chauvinist, and otherwise offensive statements against his colleagues. The committee not only gave Hazan the harshest punishment it could impose, but also docked his pay for a week.

His suspension came in the wake of multiple complaints from fellow MKs, who accused him of “offensive, inflammatory, ranting”, directed especially at female MKs and members of the Joint Arab List. His behaviour was described broadly as bullying, rude, humiliating, and sexually harassing.

In its ruling, the committee said that Hazan seemed to have made it his goal to upset some of the female and Arab MKs. “It looks as though MK Hazan has set a goal to bother Arab MKs, and to drag female MKs into a degrading and humiliating discourse including sexist and chauvinist statements... which deal a deadly blow to the Knesset and its public image,” it read.

The ruling stated further, “These events and statements, which have veered into racism and degradation more than once, deteriorate the Knesset to a previously-unknown low point.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 Shimon Z. Klein 11 Aug
    I am an ex-South African born and educated in Cape Town. I left Cape Town in 1974 for Israel where I now live to this day. In all the 44 years that I have lived here, I have never imagined that the Israeli Government would ever reach to such a low in racism and intimidation of those who oppose the occupation. The racist utterances of the Likud lawmaker, Oren Hazan, against African victims of their various totalitarian regimes, who made their way to Israel to search for a better life for themselves and families would be treated with such racist contempt by his disgraceful racist utterances. As an Israeli, I hang my head in shame! In fact, the present Israeli Government legislators, who are responsible for the passing of the Nation-State Law that is so unnecessary and superfluous because of its emphasis on the Jewish right to self-determination and the legalization of establishing "Jews only" settlements and towns. This is so reminiscent of the Group Areas Act of the 1950s in apartheid South Africa. The Likud has departed from the idealism of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, even the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, a Revisionist of the Jabotinsky-Begin mould, opposes this law and has made his views very clear on this racism that appears to be raising its ugly head in Israel. The downgrading of Arabic to "special status" rather than an official language alongside Hebrew is another example. Israel has so many security problems with Hamas in Gaza and Hizbollah in the north, and cannot afford to pass a racist law that divides and degrades Israel's non-Jewish citizens.


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