Top Pro-Israel Groups, Including AIPAC, Condemn Far-Right Kahanist Party That Might Enter Next Knesset Due to Netanyahu-Brokered Deal
Two major pro-Israel US groups expressed alarm over the past day following the political deal brokered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week that could bring supporters of the late far-right extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane into the next Knesset, after the April elections.
An American Jewish Committee statement said:
“American Jewish Committee (AJC) does not normally comment on political parties and candidates during an election. But with the announcement that Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”), a new political party formed by longtime followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, is now seeking election to the Knesset, we feel compelled to speak out.”
“The views of Otzma Yehudit are reprehensible. They do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel. The party might conceivably gain enough votes to enter the next Knesset, and potentially even become part of the governing coalition.”
“Historically, the views of extremist parties, reflecting the extreme left or the extreme right, have been firmly rejected by mainstream parties, even if the electoral process of Israel’s robust democracy has enabled their presence, however small, in the Knesset.”
“Ultimately, it is up to Israel’s Central Elections Commission to determine, as it has done in the past, whether Otzma Yehudit can be listed on the ballot on Election Day.”
“Looking ahead to April 9, AJC reaffirms our commitment to Israel’s democratic and Jewish character, which we hope will be the ultimate winners in every election cycle.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted, “We agree with AJC. AIPAC has a longstanding policy not to meet with members of this racist and reprehensible party.”
We agree with AJC. AIPAC has a longstanding policy not to meet with members of this racist and reprehensible party. https://t.co/WBkCScx4U3
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 22, 2019
Seeking to prevent the wasting of right-wing votes, Netanyahu — who heads the Likud party — agreed to give two cabinet posts to the HaBayit HaYehudi party on the condition that it merged with Otzma Yehudit.
Running on its own, Otzma Yehudit — whose leaders include Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Benzi Gopstein — likely would have failed to surpass the electoral threshold, denying it any Knesset seats.
Kahane, a US-born rabbi, served one term in the Knesset in the 1980s as head of the Kach party, which advocated the “transfer” of Palestinians to neighboring Arab countries and also called for a ban on intermarriage between Israeli Jews and Arabs. His movement was subsequently banned from Israeli politics as racist.
AIPAC and the AJC were only the latest groups to weigh in on the matter. Both the current head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jonathan Greenblatt, and his predecessor, Abraham Foxman, had earlier criticized the move.