Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has successfully orchestrated an alliance of far-right parties that includes the ‘Otzma Yehudit’ faction, which derives its policies from the late anti-Arab politician, Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose party ‘Kach’ was banned in 1994 and dubbed as a terrorist organization by the Israeli authorities. Prime Minister Netanyahu defended his decision to welcome the ‘Otzma Yehudit’ faction into his right-wing alliance, by arguing the move improves his chances of successfully forming a government-coalition led by his Likud party, after the April 9th elections. Such a right-wing bloc, Netanyahu claimed, would best protect Israel’s security from the growing regional challenges.
The move is viewed as an attempt to counter the rising power of the centrist-bloc, which is led by the ‘Israel Resilience’ party headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, whose own political merge gained the upper hand in recent polls, winning 36 mandates compared to 30 of Netanyahu’s Likud.
In an unprecedented response to the Prime Minister’s decision to accept the ‘Otzma Yehudit’ party into his right-wing bloc, the powerful pro-Israeli American-lobbies AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee have voiced harsh criticism – warning Netanyahu of the moves dangerous consequences. According to the Director of the American Jewish Committee, Avital Leibovitch, “We usually do not interfere in elections. However, in this case, our voice needs to be heard. We care about Israel, we love Israel, Israel is a strong, vibrant democracy. A party which is based on racist, Kahanist values we think should not be a part of the Israeli government. However, we understand that it’s up to the elections committee to decide who will be a part of that government or not. We are not intervening, we are merely stating our voice, a voice of the Jewish diaspora, the biggest Jewish diaspora outside of Israel.”
The ‘Otzma Yehudit’ chairman rejected the criticism against his party, claiming that he receives “a lot of support from Jews and non-Jews in the United States” whom understand the importance of the Bible and God’s promises to the Jewish people and the land of Israel. “I get a lot of support from Jews and non-Jews in the United States that support us. People that believe in the Bible and know that everything we say is written in the Bible and that’s the promise God gave Abraham, that the land will be for his descendants, for the Jewish people and we are back here in our roots, where everything started,” said Barush Marzel.
It is important to note that while the ‘Otzma Yehudit’ faction claims to derive its political decision-making from the Bible, its Chairman Baruch Marzel, together with the party’s other members, have been staunch-activists in persecution of Christians and Messianic Jews in Israel – including in their latest attempt to ban a YMCA-organized event in Jerusalem that invited Jewish and Christian children to partake in joint-activities.