Netanyahu’s Deal with Otzma Yehudit Is Horrible; Here’s Why It Matters.

Sophomore Elena Robustelli is a Contributing Writer. Her email is erobuste@fandm.edu.

By Elena Robustelli || Contributing Writer

In a desperate attempt to get re-elected in April, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu announced a technical bloc last week with Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), an alt-right political party that has been likened to the Ku Klux Klan. Otzma Yehudit is essentially the resurrection of the Kach party, a group led by the bigoted Rabbi Meir Kahane that was banned from Israel’s Knesset in 1994. The two party platforms are eerily similar to one another, both advocating for the ethnic cleansing of Christians and Arabs in Israel, the revocation of the Oslo accords, and complete Israeli rule, among other problematic ideologies. The party also embraces deportation of those who challenge the state’s decisions, which is a swift denial of Israel’s current democracy. Otzma Yehudit will likely gain at least two seats in the Knesset, and Netanyahu’s deal could put a member on Israel’s Judicial Selection Committee.

Luckily, several Jewish organizations in the U.S. who fall everywhere on the political spectrum have condemned Netanyahu’s new alliance, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, and the New Israel Fund, among others. This move is significant because while Jewish organizations often focus on foreign policy issues relating to Israel and Jews around the world, they rarely weigh on internal Israeli matters.

As an American Studies major and Judaic Studies minor, I fear that this fiasco could cast a negative light over the Israeli people rather than simply its narrow-minded leader to the point that it affects the 2020 elections here in the U.S.

If progressive candidates are afraid to speak about Israel and separate the state from Netanyahu’s choices, the public will further demonize Israel for actions that are not reflective of its citizens as a whole. But if Republicans choose to continue blindly supporting everything that Netanyahu decides, they will be irrefutably giving into the xenophobia of a supremacist party that should have never regained political recognition in the first place. What’s more, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of anti-Semitic and BDS-related acts spike up on college campuses because of this merger.

A core value of contemporary Judaism is social justice, especially given the Jewish people’s history. We know this and we love this about our faith. But in light of this alignment, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for non-Jews to see that value because of one man’s decisions, and that is a tragedy in it of itself.


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