The Likud announced Tuesday it would expel party member Moshe Ifergan for publishing an ad laden with Holocaust imagery — in which he attacked Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett — after he refused a request to remove it from a Website.
Ifergan is on the Likud’s slate — in the unrealistic 96th place — for the upcoming national elections. Because he is on the list, he can only be formally removed after the results of the January 22 elections are known.
“We believe the issue will be investigated and the real motives behind Ifergan’s move will be exposed to the public,” the Likud said in a statement that announced Ifergan’s impending expulsion.
Though the Likud is bitterly battling Bennett’s Jewish Home party, which is seen as taking votes from Likud’s right flank, it strongly condemned the ad.
The ad called on religious voters to vote for the Likud and influence policy from within the ruling party, rather than opt for the far-right Jewish Home and thus weaken the Likud’s Knesset presence. It featured a grainy black-and-white picture of Bennett behind barbed wire next to the words “60 years!” and a modified Jewish Home logo with yellow star graphic that read “Jewish ghetto.”
“It took 60 years for the knitted skullcaps” — a reference to religious Zionists — “to free themselves from the sectarian ghetto of the National Religious Party. Sixty years until we finally succeeded in becoming integrated into the Israeli public and freeing ourselves from the isolated ghetto in which our past leaders imprisoned us,” read the ad.
The National Religious Party was a previous incarnation of the Jewish Home party.
“And now,” the ad continued, “Naftali Bennett wants to return us to the National Religious Party of old, ‘the religious people’s party.’ Sorry, Naftali, we prefer to be part of the Israeli public and not to isolate ourselves. Knitted skullcaps have influence from inside. In the Likud, there are more religious and traditional Knesset members than in the Jewish Home party!”
The ad was posted to the Facebook page of a group calling itself the “Likud Supporters Street Campaign” on Tuesday morning, and on www.likudnik.co.il. The Likud supporters wrote that they were motivated by “a love of all Israel,” as opposed to Bennett, who “wants to take you back to 60 years ago with a narrow niche party vision.”
Likud MK Ofer Akunis said the ad was a disgrace and should be banned, and that his party had nothing to do with it.