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

Middle East Monitor  /  April 25, 2023

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 recognized 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 criticized past statements from Golan on asylum seekers during a press briefing.

“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.