Israeli lawmaker Miri Regev apologizes for calling African migrants a ‘cancer’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Likud lawmaker Miri Regev apologized for calling African migrants in Israel “a cancer in our body.”

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Regev apologized Sunday, in a statement that was also posted on her Facebook page, though she did not specify the migrant community in her apology. “When I compared the migrant worker phenomenon to cancer I was referring to the way the phenomenon had spread, and not anything else. If anyone took it otherwise and was consequently offended, I apologize and I surely did not intend to hurt either Holocaust survivors or cancer patients,” she said.

Regev made the original statement during a May 23 protest in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood, involving about 1,000 protesters, which turned violent.

Regev pointed out to Israeli media on Sunday and on her Facebook page that while she was attacked for calling the spread of infiltrators a cancer, no one complained when former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called settlers a cancer, or when the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, calls settlements a cancer.

She also cautioned that the issue of illegal migrants entering the country must be addressed because “as time passes it becomes more severe.”

Several dozen demonstrators picketed Regev’s house on Saturday evening, at the beginning of the Shavuot holiday.

Regev on Sunday filed a complaint with Knesset security and police, after a photo of her altered to show her in a Nazi uniform was posted on Facebook. She called the photo “extreme incitement against me beyond all limits.”

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