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Israel backtracks from appointing racist Likud MK Consul-General in New York

April 25, 2023 at 7:34 pm

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin (R) listens to MP May Golan during a session at the parliament, Knesset, in Jerusalem on March 20, 2023 [COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Following a backlash from American Jewish leaders and the Biden Administration, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office has backtracked from sending far-right Likud MK, May Golan, to New York as Consul-General, Hebrew media reported on Monday.

Golan has a past of incendiary rhetoric, the Hebrew media said, stating that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, himself had recognised that the appointment was not suitable.

Last week, Netanyahu nominated Golan for the post, stirring concern among Israeli Jewish leaders that she will not be welcomed by mainstream Jewish groups in New York due to her past.

Golan has campaigned for the expulsion of African asylum-seekers in Israel. In 2012, she said: “I am proud of being a racist.”

The Guardian said that Golan had called African refugees “Muslim infiltrators”, criminals and rapists. She said many have Aids, suggested they were spreading HIV by working as waiters, and demanded they be expelled from the country.

In 2021, she told the Israel Hayom daily that she did not plan to moderate her speech as a lawmaker, labelling herself “the mother of politically incorrect”.

On Thursday, a US State Department spokesperson criticised past statements from Golan on asylum seekers during a press briefing.

READ: ‘Proud to be racist’ Israel politician considered for Consul-General in New York

“We would condemn such kind of rhetoric and believe that such kind of language is particularly damaging when it’s amplified in leadership positions,” State Department spokesperson, Vedant Patel said.

Channel 12 said on Friday that several Foreign Ministry diplomats expressed their frustration over the selection of an “unworthy” candidate.

Netanyahu’s office confirmed on Thursday that he has offered her the Consul-General post, citing “her excellent explanatory abilities in English”.

Asaf Zamir, a former MK for the centrist Blue and White party who was appointed to the role by the previous government, resigned from the post last month in protest of the ruling coalition’s judicial overhaul effort.