Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King is helping an anonymous philanthropist build a program to “help” non-Jews emigrate from Israel, King has announced on Facebook.
“A Jewish Zionist philanthropist contacted me; he is looking for a manager with a can-do attitude, for the benefit of a business initiative whose purpose is to encourage the emigration of non-Jews, outside the borders of the Land of Israel. The intention is to encourage non-Jews to relocate outside the borders of our country,” wrote King.
“If you are suitable, contact me (in a private Facebook message, Messenger) and we will arrange a meeting with the representative of the philanthropist.”
103FM’s Ben Caspit and Aryeh Eldad interviewed King about the post, comparing it to a “laundered” version of a proposal by former tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi to transfer Palestinians to Arab nations in the region.
Ze’evi’s plan was to encourage Arabs and Palestinians to emigrate by either reaching an agreement to transfer populations with other countries or to “encourage” them to leave with incentives and by making their lives more difficult in Israel.
“It’s very much not laundered. It is most clear and clean, like our Law of Return. Essentially the idea comes from the Law of Return. The Law of Return is a racist law, it doesn’t allow everyone to immigrate to Israel. So we said, anyone to whom the Law of Return doesn’t apply and is already in Israel, we’ll encourage him – by helping him find work or studies or any other way – to leave the country. Win-win,” King told 103FM.
“During the time of Benny Elon, I was the head of the Moledet branch in Jerusalem and then we founded an organization called ‘Hagar’... [named after] the Egyptian, the mother of Ishmael, and the whole idea we took from there. Ishmael and Yitzhak didn’t get along and there was no other option besides telling Hagar and her son, Ishmael, to leave.”
Elon was a leader in the Moledet movement and proposed having Palestinians and Arabs relocated to Arab countries and the establishment of a Palestinian state in Jordan. In the early 2000s, Elon worked with right-wing leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner to promote a program to pay Palestinian refugees $50,000 to $100,000 each to emigrate to other countries.
King rejected claims that he wanted an “Arab-free” Israel.
“There will always be Arabs here. There will always be Christians here. But do you know how many Israelis with a blue identity card live in the US? Almost a million. This is very substantial.”
King stressed that this was a private initiative unconnected with the government that aims to make money by offering services that non-Jewish residents can pay to help them relocate and find work abroad. The initiative does not intend to pay the residents for relocating.
In an interview with Army Radio, the deputy mayor pointed out that “For several years, Jews have been encouraged to ‘transfer’ – there are companies that target Jews with relocation offers, [but] there are no companies that target Arabs. Those who believe that this is our country have nothing to be ashamed of in encouraging it.
"It is more important to me that the country be Jewish than democratic."Jerusalem deputy mayor Aryeh King
“It is not written in the Declaration of Independence that Israel is a democratic state, [but that it] it is a Jewish state where the minority has rights,” King said. “It is more important to me that the country be Jewish than democratic.”
While the Israeli Declaration of Independence does not mention the word “democracy,” it does say that the State of Israel will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex” and provide “full and equal citizenship and due representation” to Arab citizens.
Despite King’s initiatives and other similar ones in the past, up to 6,000 Arab and Palestinian households have actually been brought into Israel since 1948 in return for cooperating with Israeli settlers or the Israeli government, according to a 2019 report by Haaretz.
Journalists, social media users express outrage at King's initiative
King’s post sparked shock from many social media users and journalists.
Israeli Arab journalist Zuhair Bahalul called King’s initiative “a distinctly racist, trans-religious call that is fed by messianic ideology,” in an interview with 103FM.
Comments on the post expressed outrage at the initiative, with some even comparing it to Nazi Germany.
“As a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and a [new immigrant], I am appalled by this,” wrote one commenter. “How on earth are we supposed to advance Israel when politicians are taking hints from German pre-Holocaust policy?!? How are you not entirely embarrassed by this racism!?!”
Another commenter expressed outrage that King chose to publish such a post on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.