In the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's brokering
of an agreement that will bring the extreme right-wing Otzma Yehudit party into the Knesset, Americans for
Peace Now is joining with fellow Jewish organizations to call on the wider Jewish community to affirm that
Kahanists have no place in the Knesset. The multi-organizational statement follows.
Kahanists Are a Danger to Israelis and Israeli
This week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, keen to shore up
his electoral position, orchestrated the unification of the extreme right-wing party Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish
Power”) with the National Union so that it could enter the Knesset in a consolidated right-wing bloc. This is
dangerous and deeply concerning. Otzma Yehudit is the latest iteration of a political party based on teachings
of racist demagogue Meir Kahane.
For decades, the consensus in Israel was that these racist
extremist organizations should have no place in the
Knesset. We are outraged that right-wing political
parties and their leadership have reversed course and opened the door for Kahanists to enter into the Israeli
Our organizations do not advocate for or against any candidate
or party in any election. We stand together for the principles enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of
Independence. Kahanism, empowered in government, represents a clear and present danger to those
Kahane’s party, Kach, was banned from the Knesset in 1988, was
outlawed as a terrorist organization in Israel in 1994, and still appears on the US State Department list of
Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Modern day Kahanists are working to divide Israeli society by
stoking racial fears. They seek to strip all non-Jewish Israelis of basic rights; many encourage violence
toward Arabs and LGBTQ Israelis. These Jewish supremacist organizations often use incitement to violence to
promote their racist agenda. That’s why the US State Department, the EU and the Canadian government all list
Kahanist organizations as terrorist groups.
Today's Kahanists have been convicted numerous times for
support for terror organizations and incitement to racism. Michael Ben-Ari, a leader of Otzma Yehudit and
candidate for Knesset, was denied a visa to enter the US due to the State Department's "prerogative to ban
terrorists from entering the country."
As Americans, we have seen the devastating effects of elected
officials embracing white nationalist groups. In America, deadly right-wing extremism poses a clear and
present danger to our democratic society. In Israel, it is Kahanists -- and the political mainstream that
embraces them -- that pose the most direct threat to Israel’s democratic fiber.
We call on our colleagues in the American Jewish community and
Jewish organizations to stand for democracy and equality and join us in affirming that Kahanists have no place
in the Knesset.
Americans for Peace Now
National Council of Jewish Women
New Israel Fund
Partners for Progressive Israel
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human