Liberal US groups condemn entry in Knesset of Kahanist, anti-LGBT candidates

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Noam party chairman Avi Maoz (Noam Party)
Noam party chairman Avi Maoz (Noam Party)

The US Reform movement joins two other left-leaning American Jewish groups in condemning the entry into the Knesset of Kahanist and anti-LGBT candidates from the far-right Religious Zionism party.

The Religious Zionism alliance of national religious factions won six seats in Tuesday’s election, meaning its No. 3 candidate, Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben Gvir, will be one of the 120 MKs in the next Knesset, along with No. 6 candidate Avi Maoz, the chairman of the Noam party, which has made opposing LGBT rights its top priority.

“We are deeply concerned by the electoral success of candidates and parties that traffic in hate and intolerance,” the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) says in a statement.

Itamar Ben Gvir of the far-right Otzma Yehudit faction speaks at the Religious Zionism party headquarters in Modi’in, on elections night, March 23, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

“The notion that among new members of Knesset will be those who celebrated the massacre of Palestinian Muslims at Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs and who champion homophobia and incitement against Reform Jews is a moral stain on the nation and contrary to Israel’s founding values.”

Ben Gvir until recently hung a photo in his living room of Baruch Goldstein, who gunned down 29 Muslim worshippers at the Hebron holy site in 1994.

The URJ said Ben Gvir and Maoz “must not under any circumstances be rewarded for their reprehensible views with seats in the cabinet. To do so would be an assault on Israel’s international standing and principled leadership and a threat to the sacred institutions of Israeli democracy.”

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