Arabs Are Here by Mistake, Racist Leader Tells Joint List Lawmakers

The chairman of the far-right Religious Zionism party, MK Bezalel Smotrich, told Joint List lawmakers on Wednesday October 13, “You are here by mistake – because Ben-Gurion didn’t finish the job and throw you out in 1948.” The racist Smotrich also called Arab lawmakers “supporters of terror” and “enemies.”

Smotrich made these remarks, his most recent tirade against Arab Knesset members, during a parliamentary debate on an immigration bill which Simcha Rothman – another MK from Religious Zionism – was trying to promote. The bill was defeated by a vote of 45-57.

Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) addresses protesting daycare center workers who gathered near the Knesset, October 5, 2021. (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) hit back at Smotrich, saying that Arab MKs “are exposed to this fascist filth every day in the Knesset,” adding “But don’t be concerned about us here, but rather of how every Arab citizen feels when such a statement is so casually made in the state’s parliament. How should a young man or woman feel when the political right is threatening a second Nakba?”

The immigration bill proposed by Rothman, a member of the rightist opposition to Bennett’s coalition, was being negotiation with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in recent days, in an attempt to ensure its passage. The racist legislation, which has been introduced in the past but abandoned, aims to further limit and restrict immigration to Israel, provide the state with more robust powers for deporting those illegally residing in the country, and limit eligibility for temporary residency, permanent residency and citizenship. It would also provide the Knesset with the power to revoke residency or citizenship and give the state the ability to seize money brought in by those who enter the country illegally.