The New Israel Fund has urged Jews in the UK to back calls for Israel’s Central Elections Committee to ban two far-right parties with whom Benjamin Netanyahu entered into an electoral pact last week.
Zazim, a community action group in Israel, launched a petition this week calling for the election ban on Jewish Home and Jewish Power, the latter comprising disciples of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated Jewish theocracy and forcibly deporting non-Jews from Israel. He was convicted of manufacturing explosives and later assassinated.
New Israel Fund (NIF) said Jews who had been left horrified that these groups could soon take their place in Israel’s parliament could join 13,000 Israelis who had already signed the petition, but that they would need to do so in the next two days.
“I returned last night from Israel, where Israelis are speaking up in outrage at the news of Kahanists being embraced by the political mainstream,” said NIF-UK chief executive Adam Ognall on Tuesday.
“Meir Kahane was a violent supremacist who advocated and inspired acts of terror. He and his disciples were rightly banned from the Knesset in 1988… This is a time to stand up and be counted. We only have until 28 February – the deadline to approach the Central Elections Committee – to collect signatures.”
In a highly unusual public rebuke of a serving Israeli prime minister, influential American Jewish organisations including American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also condemned Netanyahu’s pact with Kahanists this week.
However not all felt the same, as the Coalition for Jewish Values (CVL), which claims to represent “more than 1,000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy,” defended the honour of Kahane, who founded the Jewish Defence League, which the FBI categorises as a terrorist organisation after members tried to bomb a mosque.
“Rav Kahane was murdered almost 30 years ago,” said the CJV’s Rabbi Steven Pruzansky. “Yet still the Jewish establishment responds in Pavlovian, hysterical fashion to any mention of his name.”
He added: “Whatever one may think of the politics of Jewish Power, its positions are moderate in comparison to the statements, positions, and outright support for terrorism of several Arab Knesset members. It is utterly unfair to deny a hearing to their voters on the appropriate response to that hatred.”
However Ognall said Kahane’s worshippers were banned “because their ideology is racist and undemocratic,” adding: “For decades, people who care about Israel across the political spectrum have largely agreed that Kahanists are a danger to Israeli democracy and have no place in its parliament.
“It is both horrifying and very revealing that Kahanists are now returning to the political arena and are being courted and embraced… Elected leaders have a sacred responsibility to protect Israelis from violent extremists — not promote them.
The petition, which is being supported by Jewish groups in Australia, the United States and Europe, can be viewed here: https://secure.nif.org/onlineactions/L2Bxc4DgMEGB0FwO7wLKDg2