Conservative Movement rips ‘dangerously radical’ Otzma Yehudit party
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Conservative Movement rips ‘dangerously radical’ Otzma Yehudit party

Rabbis warn against prospect of extremist faction joining coalition after elections, say they ‘hope and pray it returns to a place of irrelevance’

Otzma Yehudit members Michael Ben Ari (L), Baruch Marzel (C) and Benzi Gopstein protest at the entrance to the Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem on June 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Otzma Yehudit members Michael Ben Ari (L), Baruch Marzel (C) and Benzi Gopstein protest at the entrance to the Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem on June 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Conservative Jewish groups on Monday condemned the inclusion of a right-wing extremist party in an electoral alliance of national-religious factions, warning it could become a “legitimate” coalition partner after Knesset elections in April.

The criticism by The Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative rabbis and several other Conservative organizations joined a growing chorus of denunciations by Israeli opposition figures and US Jewish groups of Otzma Yehudit, whose leadership includes disciples of Jewish supremacist rabbi Meir Kahane.

Otzma Yehudit was part of an alliance of small pro-settlement parties brokered last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had warned they could fail to receive sufficient votes to enter the Knesset if they ran alone.

“The Conservative/Masorti Movement condemns the decision to include Otzma Yehudit, a racist Israeli political party with roots in the extremist ideology of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and his Kach party, in a list that might be a legitimate coalition member after the elections,” the Conservative organizations said in a statement.

“For decades, this movement has been widely recognized in Israel and throughout the United States as dangerously radical, including the Kach party being designated by the US Department of State as a terrorist organization since 1997,” the statement added.

The groups called for Otzma Yehudit to “not be further legitimized” and said “we hope and pray that the party returns to a place of irrelevance.”

Otzma Yehudit has also been condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby; the American Jewish Committee; a top Reform rabbi in the US, who likened the party to the Ku Klux Klan; and a prominent national-religious rabbi in Israel who compared its legislative proposals to Nazi Germany’s racist Nuremberg Laws.

With polls currently forecasting the Union of Right-Wing Parties to win 5-6 seats in the upcoming elections, Otzma Yehudit’s Michael Ben Ari would enter the Knesset as the fifth member of the joint list.

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