Likud MK Miri Regev apologized Saturday for comparing African migrants to cancer. Regev said her statement, made during her Wednesday speech in South Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, in which she called Sudanese asylum-seekers “a cancer in our body,” was misconstrued.
In an interview for Channel 10 News, Regev explained that she was talking about the phenomena of illegal migration and not about the migrants themselves. She said she was very sensitive about anything that has to do with the Holocaust and had refrained from visiting Germany until this year for that reason. She rejected calls for violence against the migrants, saying there is no room for violence of any type within Israeli society.
“I’m sorry that the things I said were misunderstood… If anybody was hurt by them I, of course, apologize,” said Regev.
Regev came under fire in recent days for her statement, which some people criticized as being similar to the types of accusations that were made about Jews during the Holocaust. Anti-racism protesters held a small demonstration outside her house in Rosh Ha’ayin on Saturday, calling on her to resign.
A group of supporters, including community leaders from Southern Tel Aviv Neighborhoods, held a counter protest in her defense at the same time.
Regev mentioned that she was not the first Israeli politician to compare others to cancer. She said that late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Peace Now director general Yariv Oppenheimer had both used the term about settlers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday condemned the physical violence and the racial overtones of Wednesday’s protests. Netanyahu emphasized that his comments were directed not only at the residents of Tel Aviv, but also at the public officials, including Knesset members, who participated in the rally. “We will solve the problem,” the prime minister reiterated, “and we will do so in a responsible manner.”