Otzmaphobic hypocrisy on the Right

Otzmaphobia and Kahane Derangement Syndrome plague political Right as ordinary citizens worry for country's future. Opinion.

Tags: Jewish Home
Mordechai Sones ,

Rabbi Meir Kahane
Rabbi Meir Kahane
Flash 90

While many prominent Jewish leaders have expressed praise and encouragement for the union between Jewish Home-National Union and the Otzma Yehudit "Jewish Power" parties, many in the religious-Zionist camp are openly lamenting the alignment, some going so far as to quit the party rather than be tainted by association with "extremists".

Jewish Home Women's Forum founder Ya'ara Yeshurun announced she was resigning from the party and transferring support to the party of Bennett and Shaked, the New Right, tweeting about "the sorrow of many members of the religious Zionist movement who lost their political home tonight." Meanwhile Jewish Home party Director Nir Orbach said in closed conversation he is ideologically opposed to any association with Otzma Yehudit, calling it "the erasure of Jewish Home's basic identity."

Religious Zionist fastidiousness

Why is the Otzma Yehudit party considered such anathema in some circles? National Union Chairman Betzalel Smotrich called the union an "unnatural" one, actually apologizing to followers and assuring them of a speedy separation immediately after the elections. Sounds pretty Otzmaphobic if you ask me.

The ideology some religious Zionists and other Otzmaphobes find so objectionable can be encapsulated in a video Knesset Member Rabbi Meir Kahane, ideological father of Otzma Yehudit, recorded from his Knesset office:

"How many Arabs will sit in the Knesset in another ten years? After all, we're a democracy. All of us, Jews and Arabs, have the same rights. How many Arabs will sit in the Knesset?

"Today I have the privilege of sitting together with Tawfiq Toubi and Tawfiq Ziad; how many Tawfiqs will there be in another ten years?

"And in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee: How many Arabs will sit and hear a classified report from the Chief of Staff? Maybe the Chief of Staff will be an Arab; why not? Democracy!

"There is an absolute contradiction between Western democracy and Zionism. I'm for democracy for every Jew - but not for Arabs. The only solution is population exchange. We already moved 800,000 Jews from the Arab countries to Zion; now we've arrived at Phase II - Arabs to Arabia.

"I declare it is ethical, and imperative, and Zionist, and halakhic, and logical. I do not hate the Arabs. I love the Jewish People. They have 22 lands, we have one, and it is ours, only ours. Arabs to Arabia, Jews to Zion, and peace to the Middle East."

Kahane's point, "I'm for democracy for every Jew - but not for Arabs" is not an acrobatic feat of sophistry concocted by Meir Kahane; it is ingrained within the very tenets of Western democratic thought and happens to be embraced heartily by right-wing "democracy" advocates whenever it suits them. Pretending that democracy is anything more than a human contrivance even violates the Socratic manner that, as Plato taught in several of his dialogues, does not admit all members. They have to have a preconditioned appetite to further a discussion. This is why calling a "Palestinian" a "peace-partner" is an absolute travesty of the entire exchange.

When does it suit our right-wing democracy advocates to suspend democracy? Take for example October 18, 1988, when Israel's Supreme Court upheld a Knesset Central Elections Committee ban on the Kach Movement running in the Knesset elections. Kach at the time was already sitting in the Knesset and polls were predicting anywhere from 6-12 seats, severely cutting into the other "right-wing" parties' voter bases and threatening to become the third largest party in the Knesset.

At the time, newspaper Hadashot commented: "Kahane lies deep in every part of the country. He is the only one of all the smaller parties who retains a stable and strong nucleus in every segment of the population. In 12 different ballots, over two-and-a-half months of polling, Kahane does not drop below five percent of the voters, no matter where you put the ballot box."

Without that background it might have been difficult to understand the August 23, 1988 Hadashot headline: Peres and Shamir will work together to ban Kahane's list.

Apparently then it's our right-wing leadership's prerogative to inform We the People, whose choice of representatives they would bar if given the chance, that we must accept being limited to the choices they find acceptable.

So please spare us your hypocritical Puritan religious-Zionist moralizing about ideological hygiene, and rationally answer any one of Rabbi Kahane's points. Or could it be it's not the ideology part that's irritating you, after all?

Popular Israeli singer-songwriter and composer Ariel Zilber sings 'Kahane was Right':

Documentary on Phase I of Kahane's population exchange (three parts):