Netanyahu previously used family story of anti-Semitic attack to justify expelling African asylum seekers from Israel

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

On October 1, at the conclusion of a lengthy speech demanding prolonged sanctions against Iran and pledging Israel’s willingness to take unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned back to the nightmare of 19th century Europe. He told of how an anti-Semitic mob brutalized his grandfather, Natan Milikovsky and his younger brother, Judah, using the story to present Israel as the only sanctuary for Jews in an eternally hostile world:

Ladies and gentlemen, one cold day in the 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe. They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs, screaming death to the Jews. My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself and he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him senseless. They left him for dead. And before he passed out covered in his own blood, he said to himself, “What a disgrace. What a disgrace. The descendants of the Maccabees lie in the mud powerless to defend themselves.” He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here today as Israel’s prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise….

Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit described the moment as “chilling,” citing the story as proof that Netanyahu “meant every word” of his threats against Iran. But Bibi has deployed the harrowing tale at least once before, and in a far less dramatic setting than the UN General Assembly.

In January 2011, at the July 2011 Manufacturers Association Conference in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu described his grandfather’s beating during the conclusion of a diatribe in which he demanded the mass expulsion of non-Jewish African asylum seekers to save Israel’s Jewish demographic majority and declared his refusal to remove an illegal settlement outpost.

Complaining that Israel has ”turned into almost the only first-world country that refugees can walk to from the third world,” Netanyahu warned, ”A stream of refugees threaten to wash away our achievements and harm our existence as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Currently, Saharonim Prison in the Negev Desert holds around 2000 African migrants and asylum seekers, including women and children who have fled genocide and war. Under an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Act, which Netanyahu supported and signed into law, but which was recently overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court, the state was authorized to arrest any non-Jewish African resident without charges or trial and hold them in prisons like Saharonim for as long as three years. Reuven Rivlin, the former speaker of the Knesset, has called the prison a “concentration camp[].”

Netanyahu brought his speech to the Manufacturers Association Conference to a close with the story of his grandfather’s beating. According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu recalled:

“[My grandfather] said that once he was at a train station with his brother, and rioters yelled ‘Yid’ at them and beat them with clubs. They threw his brother into the mud, and he jumped in the mud to save him. Then, my grandfather said to himself – what an embarrassment that the descendants of King David and the Maccabees are stuck in the mud. If I live, I will move to the Land of Israel.”

This post originally appeared at Blumenthal’s book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is out now. 

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

And this is some how invalidates his argument ?

There is some unspoken rule that you are only allowed to mention antisemitism in the golah only a certain amount of times when you want to make a point.
The same point btw “Jews need their own independent state”.

King David was also a Milikovsky, was he?

And now his great grandchildren yell “kushi” and beat black people senseless, they yell “missionary” and beat christian clergy senseless and on and on it goes……congratulations

What’s in store for the African refugees being expelled? From Haaretz: “Around a quarter of a million refugees currently live in Uganda, mainly Rwandans, Sudanese and Congolese. Most recent arrivals have fled the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The migrants from Israel will most likely be sent to the camps run by the United Nations Refugee Agency. “There are terrible conditions in these places,” says Nkunda. “They are basically large prisons and the… Read more »

“In January 2011, at the . . . Manufacturers Association Conference in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu described his grandfather’s beating during the conclusion of a diatribe”

You’re such a goddamn liar, Max. He told the story in a part of the speech where he talked about haredi soldiers serving in the IDF, not in reference to the asylum seekers.