Israeli Member Of Parliament Refers To Settlers As ‘Sub-humans’

A member of the Israeli Knesset, Yair Golan, made a statement calling the settlers living in Homesh, the illegal West Bank settlement “sub-humans”.

The Homesh settlement took over the land on a hilltop that is part of the Palestinian village of Burqa. It was initially annexed for military purposes in 1978 and later converted into a settlement. Golan, who is a member of the leftist Meretz party and the deputy economy minister is now facing backlash for his statement against the settlers, in which he declared, ‘These are not people, these are sub-humans, they are despicable.’ He further stated in an interview that no one should be there and when he commanded the occupied West Bank territory of Judea and Samaria, he ‘did not let anyone settle there.’

The settlers have been accused of desecrating graves in the village by the NGO Yesh Din, who also provided photographic evidence of the vandalizing. Golan implied that the settlers should be evicted from Burqa, and criticized them for their acts of vandalism. ‘They do not mention that those people who come to settle there [in Homesh] riot in the [Palestinian] village of Burqa, smash tombstones, carrying out a pogrom,’ he said. ‘We, the Jewish people who have suffered from pogroms throughout history, now enact pogroms against others.’

Golan’s criticism of the settlers has right-wing politicians demanding his resignation. Members of the opposition and the coalition condemned him severely, some even saying that he employed anti-semitism to attack settlers. The minister of religious services, Matan Kahana of the Yamina party, declared that Golan’s words were reminiscent of the slurs used by Nazis against Jewish people. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also railed against Golan, saying that his words were ‘shocking, insulting and border on blood libel.’

‘Those who settle in Judea and Samaria are the pioneers of today. We have not taken a foreign land, we have reclaimed the land of our forefathers,’ Bennett said. Golan defended his statement, tweeting ‘In my remarks, I referred to the destroyers of graves, attackers of innocents, destroyers of property… How should [one] treat such people? How should [one] call such people? It’s time to tell the truth — this is not our Judaism.’

Among those who have lashed out at Yair Golan is former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mirroring Bennett’s statement, he claimed that the settlers of Samaria and Judea are ‘Zionist pioneers’ who are occupying the ‘land of the ancestors’. Drawing on Kahana’s words, Netanyahu called for Golan to be dismissed: ‘After such a shameful statement, taken directly from Nazi terminology, against the Jewish people, Bennett must fire Golan today.’ However, under the terms of the coalition, it is only Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who can fire Golan, not Bennett.

Golan has since apologized for his choice of words, saying that his statement was a ‘bit incorrect’ and that he would amend his description of the settlers to that of ‘lowly rioters’. He has previously been the subject of controversy for his speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day, for which he drew censure from several right-wing officials when he made a speech drawing a parallel between Nazi Germany and Israel, saying, saying “If there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe – particularly in Germany – 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016.”

According to Peace Now, the Israeli human rights movement, there are about 666,000 settlers, 145 large settlements, and 140 outposts in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which are all illegal under international law. Just a few days ago, Israeli settlers uprooted and chopped down more than a dozen olive trees in one area of the Salfit district central occupied West Bank. The most recent altercation between residents and settlers in Burqa led to three Palestinians being injured when they were made to disperse after tear gas was fired at them by military troops.

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