Progressive and moderate Jews in the United States and Israel this week denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nomination of far-right lawmaker May Golan—who once said she was "proud to be a racist"—as the country's consul general in New York.
Golan, a 36-year-old member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, would have to resign her Knesset seat if she accepts the prime minister's nomination and fills the vacancy created when former Consul General Asaf Zamir resigned last month in protest of the far-right Israeli government's anti-democratic judicial overhaul. Golan supports the reforms.
"From her affection for violent anti-Arab radicals to her hatred of feminists to her racist and Islamophobic treatment of African asylum-seekers, Golan's politics could not be further from that of most Jewish New Yorkers," Rabbi Jill Jacobs, who heads the progressive rabbinical human rights group T'ruah, told The Times of Israel.
"Netanyahu's anti-democracy, pro-occupation agenda is already alienating both the American government and American Jews, and sending Golan to represent Israel will only widen that gulf," she added.
In a Thursday tweet, Golan said she was "very flattered to be considered for the post," and that if she accepts the job, she "will work with the leaders of all the Jewish organizations as part of the effort to strengthen the great partnership between Israel and the American Jewish communities."
Golan first rose to prominence over a decade ago as she advocated the deportation of African asylum-seekers from Israel.
In 2012, Golan spoke at an anti-immigration rally in Tel Aviv:
Outside my house I see shit and spit and psychopaths! You can see it in their eyes, people who just want to kill me. But nobody believes us. We're racists. We're racists because we want to preserve our lives and our sanity. So I am proud to be a racist! I'm proud to be racist. If I'm racist to preserve my life, then I'm proud!
Golan's stance was echoed by mainstream Likud leaders including then-Culture Minister Miri Regev, who described African migrants as "infiltrators" and "a cancer in our body."
Responding Friday to Golan's nomination and remarks, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said that "broadly we'd condemn such rhetoric and believe it's particularly damaging when amplified in leadership positions."
Martin Indyk—who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel during the George W. Bush administration and as special envoy for Middle East peace during the tenure of former President Barack Obama—wrote on Twitter that Golan's appointment would "be seen by the American Jewish community as a sign of utmost disrespect."
The Israel Foreign Policy Forum—a group of former Israeli diplomats—said it was "shocked" by the prospect of Golan as consul general.
"Golan's appointment is outrageous as she is a racist and divisive figure, which is the exact opposite from what Israel needs in such a critical place," the group wrote in a letter. "It is time that politicians stop using political appointments in Israel's foreign service like playing cards, we hope the appointment won't go through."
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams and was authored by Brett Wilkins.