Kahanist Party Rips Into AIPAC After Criticism of Netanyahu's Support

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Dr. Michael Ben Ari and Itamar Ben Gavir at an Otzma Yehudit protest in Umm al-Fahm, August 9, 2018.
Dr. Michael Ben Ari and Itamar Ben Gavir at an Otzma Yehudit protest in Umm al-Fahm, August 9, 2018.Credit: Eran Gilwarg

Israeli far-right party Otzma Yehudit, which has come under intense scrunity since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed its merger with the Habayit Hayehudi party, lashed out at the American pro-Israel lobby AIPAC for its criticism of the alliance.

Otzma Yehudit, which includes supporters of the late racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, took to Facebook Saturday evening to respond to the unusual condemnation by AIPAC. 

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AIPAC members should live in the Jewish state "before they get involved in the elections," the party said in Hebrew on its Facebook page.

"We have never heard AIPAC's people denouncing Haneen Zoabi or Ahmad Tibi's candidacy with such fervor," the party added. "They have also never come out against figures on the Israeli left like Ofer Cassif who want to cancel out the Jewish state," referring to a Jewish member of the far-left Hadash party.

"In any event, the Israeli voter knows that AIPAC's resistance is caused by one thing: They wish to see the rise of the Israeli left and will rejoice in a government that transfers land and gives weapons to the enemy. Indeed, at the end of the day, it's not the members of AIPAC who will pay the price of terror attacks and bloodshed of residents of the State of Israel."

AIPAC on Friday tweeted a condemnation of Netanyahu's move to encourage Otzma Yehudit to run with Habayit Hayehudi on the same ticket in the April 9 election. 

The denouncement was a retweet of the American Jewish Committee's statement on the matter, which called Otzma Yehudit a "racist and reprehensible party."

The prime minister responded to the chorus of voices condeming his embrace of the party, writing in Hebrew on Facebook that the left is demonstrating hypocrisy and double standards. "They denounce a bloc on the right with right-wing parties while the left has acted to put extremist Islamists into the Knesset to create a bloc that would overtake the right," he wrote. 

AIPAC's is not the only mainstream Jewish voice to condemn Netanyahu's invitation to bring Otzma Yehudi into the government. Two leading Jewish congressmen, New York Democrat Jerry Nadler and Florida Democrat Ted Deutch, also condemned Netanyahu's embrace of the party Friday. Rep. Nadler tweeted that "Otzma Yehudit's anti-Arab, racist philosophy should have no place in the Knesset."

Rep. Deutch retweeted AIPAC's tweet, writing that "Otzma Yehudit's hatred is not a reflection of the values the state of Israel was founded upon and should be rejected."

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