Americans for Peace Now (APN) calls on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to condemn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his alliance with a racist ultra-nationalist Israeli party, and to disinvite him from its annual policy conference.
In response to the firestorm that has erupted over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s brokering a deal designed to bring Kahanists into the Knesset, AIPAC on Friday issued a tepid statement. It called the Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”) party “racist and reprehensible.” It failed, however, to say a word about the Prime Minister, who has aligned himself with this Kahanist party and is working to bring it into government.
On Saturday, the very next day, AIPAC announced it was “honored” that Benjamin Netanyahu will speak at its policy conference next month, just days before Israel’s general elections.
AIPAC bills its annual policy conference as an “unforgettable experience” with more than two-thirds of Congress in attendance, in addition to 18,000 other participants. The opportunity to speak at AIPAC is an unparalleled platform, and has in the past provided Prime Minister Netanyahu with what is perceived by Israeli voters to be the seal of approval of pro-Israel Americans as he goes into elections at home.
In 2015, Knesset elections were held two weeks after Netanyahu spoke at the AIPAC conference and gave a speech against the Iran nuclear deal to a joint session of Congress. Observers suggest it is not a coincidence that Netanyahu pushed for elections to be scheduled two weeks after the AIPAC conference again this year. Israeli elections are slated for April 9.
The deal Netanyahu helped broker between two ultra right-wing parties was designed to prevent Israel’s far-right voters from wasting their votes on parties that do not clear the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset. In orchestrating the deal, Netanyahu went so far as to promise the Jewish Home party two cabinet positions if they agreed to run on a joint slate with Otzma Yehudit. As a result, two leaders of Otzma Yehudit, followers of the racist ideology of Rabbi Meir Kahane, are likely to enter the Knesset – and if Netanyahu holds on as prime minister, they will be members of his coalition government.
Kahane’s party, Kach, was outlawed by Israel as a terrorist organization in 1994, following the Hebron Massacre, carried out by a disciple of Meir Kahane. Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the massacre.
Kach also remains on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Echoing Kahanist ideology, Otzma Yehudit’s election platform calls for “total war” against “Israel’s enemies” (read: Palestinians) and their expulsion from Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
AIPAC’s invitation to Netanyahu was issued long before the Otzma deal. But by providing its podium to Netanyahu, AIPAC will be thrusting itself into Israeli elections on the side of a politician responsible for pushing a Kahanist party into Knesset. America’s pro-Israel lobby will be perceived as endorsing Netanyahu’s alliance with ultra-nationalist racists. This is unconscionable.
Therefore, APN urges AIPAC to clearly condemn Netanyahu’s alliance with the Kahanists and to disinvite him from its policy conference.