Labor lawmaker Stav Shaffir gets death threats, blames Otzma Yehudit supporters

After MK calls for disqualifying members of the far-right faction, she receives message saying she needs ‘an electric shock to your leftist brain’

Labor party MK Stav Shaffir, center, during a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 13, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Labor party MK Stav Shaffir, center, during a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 13, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A death threat was sent Wednesday to Labor Party MK Stav Shaffir, one of a group of lawmakers who filed petitions to prevent the extremist right-wing Otzma Yehudit party from running in the upcoming elections.

“I will kill you, burn you, you bitch,” read a message sent to Shaffir’s cellphone.

“An electric shock to your leftist brain would help,” read another message, according to Channel 12 news.

The Knesset security officer was investigating the incident.

Otzma Yehudit leaders have described themselves as proud disciples of the late ultra-nationalist rabbi Meir Kahane. The party supports encouraging emigration of non-Jews from Israel, and expelling Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and to accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state whose sovereignty extends throughout the West Bank.

Shaffir told the news station that she would not be intimidated by Otzma Yehudit followers, whom she blamed for the messages.

“The violence by Kahane’s people is a danger to all of Israeli society, and that is what is important here, more than the personal danger experienced by those who dare to stand against them, and plenty of others will experience it,” she said.

“They are corrupting and destroying the Zionist vision, their ideas recall benighted days,” Shaffir added. “I am not afraid of them and I will not let them intimidate our country. Israeli democracy is stronger than they are, and will bravely withstand this test.”

Itamar Ben Gvir of the extremist Otzma Yehudit party, right, shouts at Labor party member Stav Shafir, left at the Central Elections Committee for the 21st Knesset elections, March 6, 2019 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Earlier Wednesday Shaffir clashed with Otzma Yehudit Knesset candidates during a Central Election Committee meeting to review petitions calling for their party and some of its members be disqualified from running in the April 9 elections over their ideology.

Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir charged that Shaffir and fellow Labor MK Michal Biran had “gone from place to place calling us Nazis,” and tried to hand Shaffir in the committee room notice of a libel suit demanding NIS 500,000 in damages. Ben Gvir said he had filed the suit earlier Wednesday in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

As an attorney, Ben Gvir has made a practice of defending Jewish Israelis accused of terrorist attacks against Arabs.

Shaffir was unfazed. “Kahane’s disciples are accustomed to making threats, but this time it won’t work. They can’t threaten me, and they won’t threaten the citizens of Israel any longer. We’ll make sure to remove these violent and inciting racists, the heirs to the legacy of Kahane, whom Likud has also compared to Nazi [racial purity] laws, from the parliament of the only state the Jewish people have,” she said.

The elections committee ultimately voted to approve Otzma Yehudit and all its members for the elections. Last month Otzma Yehudit merged with two other religious right-wing parties, Jewish Home and the National Union, to form the Union of Right Wing parties.

The union, which could see Otzma Yehudit gain entry into the Knesset and was orchestrated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was condemned by other lawmakers as well as Jewish groups around the world.

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