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


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

Regev apologized Sunday in a statement that was 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," the Likud Party lawmaker wrote. "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."

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

She 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.

Regev 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 an altered photo showing her in a Nazi uniform was posted on Facebook. She called the photo "extreme incitement against me beyond all limits."

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