ADL implores Likud to reexamine controversial rapper’s membership

ADL implores Likud to reexamine controversial rapper’s membership

Inclusion of Yoav ‘The Shadow’ Eliasi in party’s ranks sends ‘the wrong message to Israeli society’

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Israeli rap singer Yoav Eliasi takes part at a right wing demonstration in support of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, August 9, 2014. (Flash90)
Israeli rap singer Yoav Eliasi takes part at a right wing demonstration in support of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, August 9, 2014. (Flash90)

In a Hebrew-language press release Wednesday, the American Jewish rights group Anti-Defamation League called on the Likud party to reconsider its acceptance of right-wing activist and rapper Yoav “The Shadow” Eliasi as a member.

In a letter to Likud director Gadi Arielli, ADL Israel director Carol Nuriel wrote: “Since joining the party [last month], Eliasi has not refrained from lashing out at various sectors of Israeli society.”

Eliasi’s choice expressions over the years, as collected by the Haaretz daily, have included a photo of him holding photoshopped testicles just after the 2014 kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers, with the words “Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], I think you forgot these!” He has reportedly suggested “cutting the organs” of dead terrorists and donating them to the National Transplant Center, or castrating terrorists to prevent them cavorting with virgins in heaven as the reward for martyrdom.

Eliasi’s latest stunt was a Facebook post comparing leftists to AIDS. The post garnered thousands of likes within a short time. This “exposed once again and in even starker terms the deep divisions in Israeli society and the decline in the culture of debate,” Nuriel wrote.

Eliasi’s remarks were “a serious warning sign,” Nuriel added. “Historical and contemporary events have taught us that words lead to actions and that we must not evade our obligation to protect the health and security of Israeli society through the creation of respectful and worthy debate.”

“We call on you to reexamine, with all the means at your disposal, the membership of [Eliasi] in the Likud Party. We believe that his membership…conveys the wrong message to Israeli society and hurts [Likud’s] reputation as a tolerant and liberal party.”

The statement continued: “As the party of government for years….the Likud movement and its leaders carry on their shoulders a heavy responsibility to protect a culture of dialogue and mutual respect within Israeli society. The membership of Eliasi, who is not averse to slandering and demonizing entire communities in Israel, conveys the exact opposite message.”

Eliasi joined the Likud earlier this month with the backing of controversial Likud lawmaker Oren Hazan.

Nuriel’s comments echoed those of former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, who said Tuesday that “if a divided society goes beyond a certain point, you can end up, in extreme circumstances, with phenomena like civil war. To my regret, the distance [until we reach that point] is shrinking. I fear that we are going in that direction.”

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday indirectly voiced his displeasure with Eliasi’s addition to the party, implying that the singer did not represent the party he knew. “I was born to a Likud which had light, there were no shadows,” he said at a conference to mark the new school year.

Reacting to the president’s remarks, Eliasi charged that Rivlin “causes half the population to feel that he does not represent them with his detached and self-righteous statements.”

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