Israeli rapper Yoav "HaTzel (The Shadow)" Eliasi.
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Firebrand rapper Yoav “Hatzel” (“The Shadow”) Eliasi should not be allowed to remain a member of the Likud, the Anti-Defamation League wrote in a letter to party director-general Gadi Arieli on Tuesday.
Eliasi joined the party at the beginning of August, but the ADL letter came following an image he posted this week on his Facebook page, which has over 250,000 followers, in which left-wing people are compared to AIDS.
ADL Israel director Carol Nuriel said the post is a “warning sign,” in that “historic and current events taught us that words lead to actions, and we cannot ignore them. It is our responsibility to protect the well-being and security of Israeli society by creating a respectful discourse.”
Nuriel called on Arieli to examine the possibility of removing Eliasi from the Likud’s membership rolls.
“His membership in the party sends a mistaken message to the entire Israeli society and harms its image as a tolerant and liberal party,” she added. “As the ruling party for years... there is a responsibility on the Likud and its leaders’ shoulders to ensure the discourse of debate and mutual respect in Israeli society. Having Eliasi, who does not refrain from defaming and demonizing entire population groups in Israel, sends the exact opposite message.”
Eliasi was part of one of Israel’s most successful hip hop groups, the TACT family, led by rapper Subliminal, but is better known in recent years for making controversial political statements and taking part in violent demonstrations, many of which were counter-rallies against left-wing activists.
He is associated with radical right-wing groups and figures, such as Hebron activist Baruch Marzel, soccer hooligans La Familia, and anti-intermarriage group Lehava, and uses social media to spread his views, which have been criticized by many as racist incitement.
After Eliasi joined the Likud earlier this month, at the invitation of MK Oren Hazan (Likud) as first reported in The Jerusalem Post, Minister-without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi asked Likud Legal Adviser Avi Halevy to ban the rapper from the party. Hanegbi said Eliasi would be like former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who brought thousands of members into the party, many of whom did not vote for the Likud in general elections.
“Only after the Likud members were wise enough to not choose Feiglin for a realistic slot on the party’s Knesset list, did the party succeed in winning 30 seats for the first time in 12 years,” Hanegbi wrote.
Hanegbi noted that the Likud’s membership registration department had a legal right to reject Eliasi’s membership form, due to clauses in the party’s constitution.
Eliasi responded by noting that Hanegbi was convicted of perjury and swearing falsely in 2010.
“It amazes me that a minister who convicted of a crime is scolding me,” he said.
MK Bennie Begin (Likud) also opposed Eliasi joining the party, and Eliasi falsely accused Begin’s son and daughter of converting to Buddhism and Islam, respectively.
However, Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara defended Eliasi joining the Likud, saying the party represents a broad swath of the population and is not closed to anyone.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.