A statement by Israel's Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana has stirred condemnation after saying he wishes he could get rid of Arab Palestinians in Israel.
In his remarks before a group of male students at a religious high school in Efrat illegal settlement in the West Bank, Matan Kahana said he wished "there was a button I could press that would take all the Arabs and put them on a train to Switzerland, I would. A button like that does not exist."
An Israeli deputy minister sparked anger after a video surfaced of him saying he wished there was a button he could press to send all Palestinian citizens in Israel to Switzerland.— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) June 14, 2022
Matan Kahana was speaking to high school students in the illegal settlement of Efrat on Monday pic.twitter.com/T4X2zsnWNJ
Why? Why not Rwanda?— Matt King (@mattotisking) June 14, 2022
The comments were taped on video by one of the students and shared on Twitter by the political correspondent at the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation Kaan, prompting a variety of responses among social media users, including Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers.
👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽 listen to what they say and then wake up damn! He’s literally talking about eliminating #Arabs from their own homes, own land, it’s crazy how entitled #Zionists feel on someone else’s land! When #Palestine goes back to #Palestinians what will this idiot do? #FreePalestine https://t.co/U4NfnS8wBD— Asma Jama (@Asma_Jama11) June 14, 2022
Most reactions perceived Matan Kahana's remarks as racist and exclusionary of Palestinians, while some people considered it a wish for genocide to end the Palestinian presence.
Disgusting racism! Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana to Israeli teens (!): "If I could press a button and make the Arabs vanish on an express train to Switzerland - I would."— Emily Schrader - אמילי שריידר (@emilykschrader) June 14, 2022
We cannot tolerate the normalization of racism and hate. Enough! pic.twitter.com/MIjZbdIrHi
Some social media users also linked his comments to Israeli policies against Palestinians, ones that have caused several international human rights organizations to categorize them as the crime of Aparthied.
Online voices also noted that the minister's remarks are not foreign to the Israeli public, as a recent survey found that 60% of Israelis are in favor of segregation against Arab Palestinians in the country.
Matan Kahana has come under a lot of fire, and I'm not sure why.— Gilad Halpern (@Gilad_Halpern) June 14, 2022
1. He simply said out loud what 80% of Israeli Jews think quietly.
2. He apologized profusely and unabashedly.
3. His bottom line is that he can't ship the Arabs to Switzerland.https://t.co/bphADSlJUd
Besides Israel's military occupation of the West Bank since June 1967, 20% of Israeli citizens are Arab Palestinians who did not leave their homes during the 1948 war, making up nearly 2 million people.
According to findings of human rights groups, Arab citizens of Israel do suffer discriminatory policies that reached a peak when the Israeli parliament passed the country's infamous nation-state law in May 2018, which regards Israel as a Jewish-only state and gives only the country's Jewish population the right to self-determination.
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