ECAJ Media release: Otzma Yehudit political deal in Israel.


25 February 2019

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the elected peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community, situated at the apex of more than 200 Jewish organisations across Australia, has expressed its deep dismay at the announcement that two mainstream Jewish political parties in Israel, Jewish Home and the National Union, have agreed to join forces with Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) in Israel’s upcoming national election.

The ECAJ does not ordinarily comment on Israel’s internal politics taking the view that these are matters for Israel’s citizens, whose rights, interests and security are at stake.

However, we have never hesitated to speak out in support of Israel’s basic right to exist in peace and security, or against attempts to undermine Israel’s foundations as a Jewish and democratic State, as these are matters which engage the interests of the Jewish people as a whole. We have condemned attempts from the extreme left of politics to impugn Israel’s legitimacy, through the BDS campaign and by other means; fought against Islamist bigotry towards Israel and the Jewish people; and denounced the agenda of the extreme right to convert Israel from a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-party democracy into an ethnically or religiously exclusivist society.

We are therefore compelled to express our deep dismay that two mainstream Jewish political parties in Israel, Jewish Home and the National Union, recently announced an agreement encouraged by the Prime Minister to join forces with Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), a party which is widely seen as extremist and racist, and the political heir of the Kach Party founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was banned from the Knesset in the 1980s under a Basic Law outlawing incitement to violence and later exiled entirely from Israel.

The unity ticket announced by the three parties is cynical and opportunistic, and a betrayal of fundamental Jewish and Zionist values. The leaders of Otzma Yehudit are disciples of Kahane, and there is now a possibility that at least one of them will be elected when Israel goes to the polls on April 9, and Kach’s poisonous ideology will return to the Knesset.

Whilst the presence of one MK from Otzma Yehudit out of a total of 120 MKs would be largely symbolic, this is the kind of symbolism that matters. It will be used with equal cynicism by those who seek to demonise and delegitimise Israel.

All of Israel’s citizens equally, regardless of ethnic background, religious affiliation (or absence of religious affiliation), gender or sexual preference, will have the right to vote in the elections. We trust that they will have the good sense to turn their backs on Otzma Yehudit, and treat the recent agreement with the contempt it deserves.

Peter Wertheim AM | co-CEO
ph: 02 8353 8500 | m: 0408 160 904 | fax 02 9361 5888
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  1. Otto Waldmann

    Yet, if democracy must be preserved at any costs, the Knesset can afford the costs of having, say, one single MK, representing easily this despised faction, as a reflection of what percentage of , still Jewish folk, do belong to this abominable Otzma Yehudith
    To mein, these terrible vengeful bocherim ain’t all that schrechlicheh…..( as those who know me would expect…)
    At least, the rest of the MKs will have a rhetorical punch bag if running out of a “cogent” filibuster or any other such intervention…

    • Yes Otto, and this whole thing is really about political pragmatism and not ideology. Meanwhile, buddies of Arafat sit in the Knesset and push a particular form of extremism that seeks Israel’s demise and that’s okay? Surely democracy, even Israel democracy isn’t that blind, is it?

      • Otto Waldmann

        John, this is uncuny… when set out to write those few words, my initial intention was to start with the sentence : ” This is really about political pragmatism and not ideology.”, so help me…Also ,my basis was the same Israeli democracy etc….

        • The knives are really out for Bibi, aren’t they Otto? And now, not wholly unexpectedly the AG moves to indict him… what do I know, but it looks politically driven from where I’m sat, what do you think?

          • Otto Waldmann

            I tend to think that the “sanctity” of the top office in Israel has a due by date, almost regardless of who happens (!!) to occupy it, simply due to the natural tendencies, the impatience of the Israeli electorate to see changes at the very top, seemingly just for the sake of it.
            This, otherwise very healthy feature, has to do with the almost logical concept that, except for Moshiach, nobody should feel too cozy as the leader of all those millions of local leaders, whatever the Jewish population of Israel might be.
            In the honesty market, the commodity called “politician” has as many value variables, as there are very personal, subjective opinions about them.
            True, we have seen groisse machers of the same kind and even of higher office – THE highest – ending up in places strictly reserved for criminals, while Bibi’s charges seem a lot milder.
            This is precisely why an impatient electorate, anxious for a change, does not appear to mind using more drastic means of “removal” i.e. legal actions of any sort.
            The other day I saw some amusing fairy tale on the internet pretending that Bibi has a….82% approval rate…..This is what haloymes are made of…

  2. Yes Otto, voter apathy and the old adage about familiarity breeding contempt often come into elections. Sometimes, people just want a change of face, the question is who will that face be if Bibi is so unfairly shown the door? It is to be hoped Israel doesn’t change direction and that his legacy be respected and built upon, not cast aside. I wouldn’t write him off just yet though.

    • Otto Waldmann

      A few days ago, having my daily tiff with the inescapable coterie of Israeli opinion contenders on facebook, I asked exactly the same question to those throwing anything they had verbally handy at Bibi, obviously as their allergic reaction of the kind not yet diagnosed rationally to, actually, the `LONGEST standing Israeli PM .
      It all reminded me of that cute joke from ” When You’re in Love the Whole World is Jewish” about a divorce case. The judge asks the wife ” Mrs. Levinson, you’ve been married to Mr. Levinson for 52 , you yourself agreed, very happy years, why do you want to divorce him !!” Mrs. Levinson : ” Because enough is enough !!”.

      My challenge to the folk I can’t help but constantly disagree with, was if they could name a similar, not even better alternative for Bibi in terms of the manner in which he has been taken the case for Israel not just to infinitely more places than any other PM, but in some of the most unlikely places in terms of the conflictual stances of those places between each other. NOBODY would have open doors within the same week to both Trump and Putin and many such seemingly incompatible poles. We have not spotted yet any Israeli contender to Bibi’s job with the rhetorical effect Bibi possesses in all international fora etc.

      Today, just to confirm my notion of Bibi the Moshiach, I saw the launch of the Likud electoral campaign and , his gone meshige supporters in the “room” were singing ” Bibi, meleh Israel, hai, hai etc. “. Can anyone imagine how Bibi’s opposing camps fret at this kind of “provocations” !!!

      Israel is, in fact, showing a very respectable degree of consistency when it comes to defying the expectations of political behaviour found at any other democratic country.
      We know that in times of war Israel is unique, united as one, well, in times of elections she is also unique as a .. highly divided country.
      She cannot help being different…… and maybe that’s what makes us meshige about our Eretz Zion Yerushalaim…. Wouldn’t have her any other way.

      My hunch, Bibi will win.