'Kahane was a leader, we are not racists'

Otzma Yehudit candidate defends party from charges of racism, says party must be judged on current positions, not those of Meir Kahane.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

'we are not racists'
'we are not racists'
Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, one of the candidates on the Otzma Yehudit party Knesset list, defended his party to the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday, which dealt with the request of the left and the Reform movement to disqualify Otzma Yehudit from running in the upcoming elections.

"Rabbi Kahane was a member of the Knesset, he was a leader," Ben-Gvir said. "We don't subscribe to every law he proposed, but we think that the rabbi was right."

"This day, the day on which the Attorney General's representatives seek to prevent Dr Ben-Ari from running for the Knesset, is a black day for Israeli democracy," he declared. "Members of the Reform movement take one sentence out of context [to libel Otzma Yehudit]. They keep crucial information from the committee."

He defended Otzma Yehudit from charges of racism. "To say that there is no room for Israel's enemies is not racism. This is just focusing on a few sentences and taking them out of context."

"We think that Rabbi Kahane was right about the death penalty for the terrorists, he was right in his struggle for the Jews of the Soviet Union, he was right in the struggle to settle the Land of Israel," he added.

When committee chairman Judge Hanan Meltzer asked Ben-Gvir what issues Rabbi Kahane was not right about, he replied: "We would not have submitted a law on racial segregation. I remind the chairman that we were MKs for four years and did not submit any such bill. We do not include all the Arabs [in our statements]. We do not call all Arabs enemies."

When asked about Otzma Yehudit's platform that judges should declare their loyalty to the State of Israel, Ben-Gvir said: "We think that every judge should declare their loyalty. Those who are loyal are welcome. Those who are not loyal should not be here. Is that racism?"

"Unfortunately, I did not get to know the great rabbi, Rabbi Kahane, but you must deal with the opinions of Ben-Ari and Ben-Gvir, not Rabbi Kahane," Ben-Gvir demanded. "They distributed a sticker here against Arabs. I checked and it's a sticker from 30 years ago. We talk about the picture of Dr. Goldstein, but look at the picture Tibi has on his wall of the arch-murderer, Yasser Arafat."

"Shafir called us Nazis. This did not hurt me. It hurts the 6 million people murdered in the Holocaust. It is possible to disagree, but for serving MKs to call us Nazis is something that is unacceptable in the Knesset.

Ben-Gvir added, "As far as I'm concerned, Neturei Karta, those who met with the president of Iran, and [left-wing journalist] Ofer Kassif, are the same."

Asked about his position on the Arabs of Haifa, Ben-Gvir replied: "Those among them who were happy that soldiers were killed are enemies. I have no issue with all Arabs, but those who call to 'slaughter the Jew' are enemies."