Canadian Friends of Peace Now joins the outcry against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent embrace of the extremist right-wing party Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”), thus creating an avenue for avowed racists to enter the political mainstream.
The leaders of Otzma Yehudit have publicly endorsed the racist ideology of Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach movement was outlawed by Israel, the United States, the European Union and Canada as a terror organization.
Concerned that Otzma Yehudit and another far-right party, HaBayit HaYehudi (“Jewish Home”), might fail to cross the 3.25 percent electoral threshold in the April 9 elections and fail to win Knesset seats, Netanyahu brokered a union between the two. (HaBayit HaYehudi was in a weakened position because of the recent departure of some of its leaders.) As part of the merger agreement, the Prime Minister promised that the new combined party would receive the housing and education ministries should Netanyahu be asked to form the next government.
The leaders of Otzma Yehudit publicly present themselves as continuing on the Jewish supremacy path of Rabbi Kahane. The rabbi’s infamous Kach movement called for a Jewish theocratic state, held that only Jews deserve full citizenship rights in the Land of Israel, advocated the deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank and Israel, and some of its leaders expressed support for terrorist attacks against Palestinians.
Canadian Friends of Peace Now, the sister organization of Israel’s Peace Now movement, is a non-partisan organization. We typically avoid commenting on the machinations of Israeli political parties. But when the Prime Minister of Israel implicitly endorses a worldview that has until now been beyond the pale in Israeli public life, we must speak out.
Attempting to bring Kahane’s disciples into government is a despicable,cynical move that undermines Israel’s democracy, strikes at its moral fibre and violates widely accepted Jewish values. As one commentator put it: ” Netanyahu just invited Israel’s equivalent of the KKK to join the government.”