Americans for Peace Now (APN) calls upon fellow American Jewish organizations to join it in condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's embrace of the extremist right-wing political party Otzma Yehudit ("Jewish Power").
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. American Jewish leaders must not stay silent as Netanyahu not only endorses such a party as legitimate, but also works to bolster its political fortunes.
APN, the American sister organization of Israel's Peace movement Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), is a non-partisan organization. We typically avoid commenting on the machinations of Israeli political parties, including during election seasons. But when the Prime Minister of Israel implicitly endorses a worldview that has always been beyond the pale in Israeli public life, we must speak out.
Concerned that Otzma Yehudit and another extremist right-wing party, HaBayit HaYehudi ("The Jewish Home"), might fail to cross the 3.25 percent threshold in the upcoming April 9th elections, Netanyahu in the past few days brokered a union agreement between the two parties. HaBayit HaYehudi is the contemporary incarnation of Israel's historic National Religious Party. The leaders of Otzma Yehudit publicly proclaim loyalty to the ideology of Rabbi Meir Kahane and present themselves as continuing on his path. Kahane's Kach movement 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.
By using his office to aid a party whose leaders and supporters endorse such views, Netanyahu is sending to the Israeli public and the world an intolerable message of support for racism and for a political agenda that is unacceptable in a democratic society and which violates Jewish values. His actions inflict severe damage on Israeli democracy and on Israel's image internationally.