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Ben Gvir responds to former ally’s criticism: ‘I am not Rabbi Kahane’

After Baruch Marzel accuses him of ‘flexible ideology,’ far-right Otzma Yehudit leader says party ‘is not a continuation of Kach’

MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Ramat Gan, August 15, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Ramat Gan, August 15, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Far-right wing Otzma Yehudit party head Itamar Ben Gvir responded to the criticism of a former political ally on Wednesday, saying that he is “not Rabbi Kehane.”

Baruch Marzel, whom the Supreme Court disqualified from running in the 2019 Knesset elections alongside Ben Gvir, came out against his former ally in a Wednesday morning interview on radio station 103FM.

“Otzma Yehudit was established for an ideological need and not for a political need. Of course, one runs for office to fulfill an ideology, but if ideology is flexible, it is wrong [to run for office],” Marzel said in the interview.

He declined, however, to give specifics regarding Ben Gvir’s apparent flexibility in ideology. Instead, he emphasized that Ben Gvir is “not left-wing, God forbid,” and noted that he is “one of the most brilliant politicians” and “very talented.”

Ben Gvir took to Twitter to respond. “I respect him…and I do not have any negative things to say about him,” he said, adding that he believed Marzel was “unfairly disqualified by the Supreme Court” in 2019.

“I know and respect his activities, but I am not Rabbi Kahane, may God avenge his blood, and [Otzma Yehudit] is not a continuation of the Kach party,” he tweeted.

Marzel supported the ultranationalist Kahane in his youth and served as secretary of the Kach party after the rabbi’s assassination in 1990; the party was declared a terrorist organization by both the Israeli government and the US State Department a few years later, after which it disbanded.

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