(February 22, 2019 / JNS) In a rare move, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee condemned the merger this week of Jewish Home and National Union parties with the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, a strategy backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Otzma Yehudit, or “Jewish Power,” was formed by followers of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was based in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Kahane founded the Jewish Defense League in the United States, which was tainted by violence. After he immigrated to Israel, he advocated for the expulsion of all Arabs.
“The views of Otzma Yehudit are reprehensible. They do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel,” said AJC in a statement, prefacing that it was compelled to speak out despite its prerogative not to “comment on political parties and candidates during an election.”
“The party might conceivably gain enough votes to enter the next Knesset, and potentially even become part of the governing coalition,” added the organization. “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.”
“We agree with AJC. AIPAC has a longstanding policy not to meet with members of this racist and reprehensible party,” the latter tweeted.
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
Whether the policy will apply to Jewish Home has yet to be determined.
Netanyahu encouraged the merger of the right-wing parties as part of a strategy to ensure that these smaller parties pass the electoral threshold in order not to lose potential Knesset seats.