Dr. Ofer Cassif
Dr. Ofer Cassif Hadash Parush/Flash90

Former Defense Minister and chairman of the Yisrael Beytenu party Avidgor Liberman announced Thursday that he would file a petition against the candidacy of Hebrew University political science professor Ofer Cassif in this year’s election for the 21st Knesset.

Cassif, who has repeatedly drawn media attention for his controversial views expressed in his lectures, is running on the fifth spot on a joint ticket of two predominantly Arab factions: the Ta’al party and the communist Hadash party.

Replacing MK Dov Khenin, as Hadash’s sole Jewish representative, the Hebrew University lecturer has drawn criticism for his comparisons of the Israeli leaders and even the State of Israel to the Nazi party and Nazi-era Germany.

Cassif once shared a Facebook post calling Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (New Right) “neo-Nazi scum”.

In 2017, Cassif was recorded during class comparing the State of Israel to Nazi Germany, warning that Israel was “on a slippery slope” to fascism.

"The fact that we're on a slippery slope to fascism isn't an opinion,” said Cassif. “I'm sure that if we were sitting... in the University of Freiburg in 1933, and there would be a professor who would dare to speak like I did, there, too, some of the students would say 'Well, that's your opinion'. Guys, no, it’s not. Just because something is hard for us to hear doesn't make it opinion."

On Thursday, Liberman explained his decision to petition the Israeli elections committee to bar Cassif from running for the Knesset.

“Someone who claims that the State of Israel doesn’t need to be a Jewish state, someone who legitimizes attacks on IDF soldiers and who says that attacks on [IDF soldiers] are not terrorism, and who thinks that Jews who go to the Temple Mount are a cancer which needs to be eliminated cannot sit in the Israeli Knesset. His place is in the parliament of Gaza or Ramallah.”

In response, Cassif said he was “not surprised” that someone who calls for the death penalty and for nullifying citizenship and who runs on a racist ideology would try to ban someone who tries to advance Jewish-Arab cooperation, peace and an end to the occupation. I will get into the Knesset, despite the rage of Liberman and the radical right.”