(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman petitioned the Central Elections Committee to ban Hadash-Ta’al candidate Ofer Cassif from running in the upcoming election.
Liberman argued that “whoever claims that Israel shouldn’t be a Jewish state; who [incites against] IDF soldiers and says hurting them is not terrorism; and who thinks that Jews who ascend the Temple Mount are a cancer that must be eliminated, cannot sit in the Knesset. He belongs in the parliament in Gaza or Ramallah.”
Cassif replaced MK Dov Henin in the Jewish spot of the mostly-Arab communist party Hadash, which is part of the Joint List of Arab parties that split into two ahead of the April 9 elections. He is in fifth place on the merged Hadash-Ta’al list, making it likely that he gets into the next Knesset.
Yisrael Beytenu will have to gather 12 signatures from Central Election Committee members to hold a debate and vote on banning Cassif, and then a majority of committee members would have to vote for him to be disqualified. However, Cassif would be able to appeal to the High Court of Justice, which has overturned all such bans in recent decades.
The candidate said that he’s not surprised that Liberman, “who called for the death penalty and revoking citizenship and has a racist ideology, would act to disqualify someone who wants to promote Jewish-Arab partnership, peace and the end of the occupation.”
“I will enter the Knesset despite Liberman and the extreme Right, and together with my friends in Hadash-Ta’al, will present a moral and just alternative,” Cassif said.
The political science lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other colleges courted controversy four years ago when he called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked “filth” and a “neo-Nazi.” He has also called Liberman “a descendant of Adolf” and compared the government’s policies to those of Germany in the 1930s.
Shaked said earlier this week that Israeli democracy is strong enough to include extremes on the Right and Left, and that she will not ask to disqualify Cassif.
In a February interview in Haaretz, Cassif agreed with a statement that called Netanyahu a mass murderer and said that Israel is engaging in a “creeping genocide” of the Palestinians; he made repeated references to the Holocaust in describing the situation in Gaza.
Cassif called himself an anti-Zionist and said that he thinks Zionism is a racist practice of “Jewish supremacy,” but he also opposes it on socialist grounds, arguing that Zionism divides the working class. In addition, he said that “Zionism strengthens antisemitism.”
The candidate added that he supports some aspects of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.
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