Who are the Kahanists of Otzma Netanyahu opened Knesset door to?

Otzma Yehudit- or Jewish Power in English– is an offshoot of a political movement that has been designated a terrorist organization abroad and banned from Knesset lists since the 1980s.

February 21, 2019 07:30
1 minute read.
Marzel looks like Herzl 248.88

Marzel looks like Herzl 248.88. (photo credit: )


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut a deal on Wednesday that paves the way for Otzma Yehudit, an extremist and racist group with roots in Kahanist political philosophy, to sit in the next Knesset when it opens. 

Otzma Yehudit- or Jewish Power in English– is an offshoot of a political movement that has been designated a terrorist organization abroad and banned from Knesset lists since the 1980s.

That movement, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, considers Arabs and other non-Jews in Israel to be enemies of the state and supports replacing Israel's democratic government with a theocratic structure.

Several different groups have spawned from Kahane's racist ideology. Some have outwardly promoted violence, while others have stopped short of publicly proclaiming policies that would get them officially banned from serving in parliament.

Otzma falls in the latter category. It has taken a similar strategic approach to the stigma of Kahanist history that neo-fascist groups have navigated in the US and Europe, rebranding as an "alt-right" political movement tonally distinct and subtler than their predecessors.

Kahane served in the Knesset for only one term, but his influence has carried long after his tenure and his death by assassination in 1990. He advocated annexation of Gaza and the West Bank, restoring Jewish "sovereignty" over the Temple Mount, limiting the rights of non-Jews to a subclass– or even forcibly removing them from the country– and violence against his political enemies.

Today, Otzma Yehudit supports several of these policies, including full Israeli control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and cancellation of the Oslo Accords. Party leaders have shied away from calls to violence and mass deportations, but support the forced expulsion of "Arab extremists," avoiding specifics.

Kahane was personally accused of plotting various terrorist attacks throughout the 1970s, and his followers continue to face accusations of supporting domestic terrorism and incitement to racism. A massacre of Palestinian Muslims praying in Hebron in 1994, perpetrated by followers of Kahane, led Israel, the US, Canada and the EU to designate Kahane's Kach group as a terrorist entity.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu supported an alliance in the upcoming April 9 election between the Jewish Home-National Union Party– a far-Right party by Israel's political standards– and the Otzma movement, suggesting a continuation of a general rightward shift in Israel's political spectrum.

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