Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90
PM Netanyahu at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, Feb. 18, 2019.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday referred to criticism of the union he had initiated between Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) and Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union, in response to a statement issued by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) against the inclusion of Jewish Power, a small, right-wing, Zionist party led by followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane HY’D.

On Friday, AIPAC declared on its official Twitter account: “The views of Otzma Yehudit are reprehensible. They do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel.”

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Netanyahu posted in on his Facebook account the next day:

“What hypocrisy and double standards of the left, they condemn a blocking alliance on the right with right-wing parties, while the left has worked to bring radical Islamists into the Knesset in order to create a blocking alliance:

“In 1999, [Ehud] Barak participated in a pre-election conference with the inciting Sheikh Raed Salah; Labor and Meretz representatives voted for Azmi Bishara, who spied for Hezbollah to enter the Knesset; and [Yitzhak] Herzog worked on a vote-surplus agreement with the Joint [Arab] List and said that the Arab MKs were legitimate partners in the government.

“To rule out a union with right-wing parties is unacceptable, but to act to incite instigators and spies against Israel is legitimate. This is the height of absurdity.”

On Wednesday, Habayit Hayehudi central committee approved the agreement with Netanyahu, which including a partnership with Jewish Power. As part of the agreement, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz was promised the education portfolio in the next government, and Bezalel Smotrich the housing portfolio.

The CEO Avital Leibowitz of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Israel, whose group issued a condemnation of the unification of Jewish Power with Habayit Hayehudi ahead of AIPAC, told Kan, Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation: “We are not a political organization and we do not intervene, but this time there is an extreme situation here.”

Leibowitz continued: “We issued the announcement that we are concerned about letting into the Knesset people who can undermine the democracy of the State of Israel. This is a statement that calls on the platforms of all the parties to address the interests of the six million Jews living in the United States, who are very concerned about the situation and the democratic character of Israel.”

“We rely on the Central Elections Committee, and do not intervene during the election campaigns, but the US Jewish voice should be heard at such a time,” she said.

The American Jewish Committee is an advocacy group established more than a century ago, which the NY Times says is “widely regarded as the dean of American Jewish organizations.”

We lay our hands on the agenda of Otzma Yehudit and learned that while the group values democracy and democratic institutions, they are not their highest values, as they put it early on in their agenda: “War against the enemy is not racism. There is no freedom of expression to incite against the state and IDF soldiers. Settling the Land of Israel is not occupation, and we will not allow the elimination of our state in the name of democracy.”

There’s also this:

“The Jewish people’s war for survival in its land is being neutralized by manipulations and distortions of freedom of expression, human rights, democracy, and the rest of the lies working for the enemy’s victory. Many in Israel are choosing to continue sleeping while on watch over the Jewish state. This path of turning a blind eye leaves blood, fire, and ruin for our children.”

A personal note: having been following up-close the Duma arson-murder affair since July, 2015, I recall hearing countless times from my friend on the left that the brutal fashion in which the Shin Bet treated—with the approval of the Attorney General and the Supreme Court—frail teens who were beaten and tortured and deprived of their human and civil rights for more than a year, was justified in the name of Democracy’s right to defend itself.

With that in mind, I would recommend to all my leftist friend to vote for Otzma Yehudit, which appears to uphold their values.

As to myself, seeing as I want to reserve my right to criticize the IDF, never mind the entire Israeli military industrial complex, I would probably pick a more benign right-wing option.

As to the rights of US Jews to intervene in Israeli politics, I recommend landing in Ben Gurion International, picking up the blue ID card that’s been waiting for them since 1948 – and voting their little heart silly.

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