The Likud party has admitted to backing a campaign that bashed well-known religious-Zionist rabbis who publicly supported the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party. Likud has been waging an elections campaign against the party in recent weeks after polls showed it taking several of Likud’s seats.
The confession came after Elections Committee head Justice Elyakim Rubenstein ordered Likud to respond to a complaint from the Jewish Home over the then-anonymous campaign.
The attacks ads were considered illegal because they were put online anonymously.
Among the rabbis targeted were Rabbi Zalman Melamed and Rabbi Dov Lior. “Rabbi Zalman Melamed, who preaches disobeying orders, stands behind Naftali Bennett,” said one ad, while another read, “Rabbi Dov Lior, who thinks Baruch Goldstein is holier than all of the martyrs of the Holocaust, stands behind Bennett’s list.”
The campaign ran parallel to an overtly Likud-linked campaign aimed at portraying lesser-known Bayit Yehudi candidates as right-wing extremists.
Sources in the religious-Zionist world expressed horror at the campaign. “An inciting, anti-Semitic campaign like that against Naftali Bennett and the religious community had never been done before in Israel,” they said. “We must find out who approved and funded these ads and who made them public, to take them to court and make an example of them.
“Whoever was responsible for a campaign like this should not sit in Knesset,” they concluded.