Implications of Netanyahu’s Alliance with the Kahana Terrorist Group

It has become clear that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to ally himself with the devil to win the April 9 Israeli elections, even if his coalition angers Jews around the world. Netanyahu has embraced the ultra-Orthodox party of Meir Kahana, the founder of the ultra-extremist Jewish Defense League and the Fascist Kach, which the United States, the European Union and even Israel itself have listed as terrorist since the 1980s and 1990s.

The American-Israeli Public Relations Committee (AIPAC), the most prominent and influential lobby for Israel’s policies was “forced” to issue a protest statement denouncing the Netanyahu alliance with the far right extremist group. In a quite rare criticism of Netanyahu, AIPAC said that “the declaration of the merger with the Jewish Power party (Otzma Yehudit) of Rabbi Meir Kahana and its ambition to reach the Knesset is forcing us to talk about this issue; the views of the Power party are racist and reprehensible and do not reflect the basic values on which the State of Israel was founded.”

The Israeli writer Chemi Shalev said: “The AIPAC statement could confuse Netanyahu’s plan to use his appearance at the annual conference on March 24 as a sure platform for political propaganda to be a risky gamble that could do him more harm than good.” He went on to say that “delegates who will come to Washington on March 24 will try to maintain business as usual and are likely to agree to welcome Netanyahu, but what was supposed to be a revolutionary process in the way Netanyahu acts, has now turned into a tense arena with hidden dangers in every corner.”  Similarly, Israeli relations with British Jews have been strained. Paul Charney, Chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, said he “expected the current Israeli elections to see several extraordinary events, but (did not expect to witness) alliances of this kind! Netanyahu must know that his alliance with such people will cause him self-destruction.” Another prominent Jewish leader, Hannah Weisfeld, director of the Yachad pro-Israel pro-peace movement said “the new alliance does not represent values and ideas held by anyone who believes in democracy and justice, and all Israeli cooperation with the British government and the Jewish community must come out against this alliance with the racist Power group which supports terrorism with a dangerous ideology.”

It is true that the criticism, especially the AIPAC statement on Netanyahu’s embrace of the racist Jewish Power party, sheds light on the resentment of American Jews, even among the strongest in support of Netanyahu, and reinforces the growing crisis of confidence between Israel and American Jews. Yet, some American groups are still directing money to the new Kahana followers. Israeli-American journalist Mairav Zonszein reveals that “In the 20 years since the Kach ban, the Kahana followers have come up with ways to continue pushing for and funding a racist, anti-Arab and anti-democratic agenda.” She added: “a new investigation, carried out in coordination with the Democratic Institute, an Israeli non-profit organization founded in 2018 to conduct research and monitoring of anti-democratic trends in Israel, revealed a network of interconnected groups, individuals and websites in Israel and the United States-including several non-profit organizations that seem to have been founded to divert tax-free dollars to Kahana-related issues, some of which are directly linked to Jewish terrorist groups.” She went on to say: “If in the past they used to rely on political mechanisms to raise funds and recruit activists, we are talking today about a network of hidden organizations in the form of charitable groups and social issues that raise money from the State of Israel and abroad to continue incitement.”

According to Yair Lapid, the founder of There is a Future party, said: “If Netanyahu who lost all his ethical controls is re-elected, the new far-right party that he leads, assuming it has enough votes, will help him win a governing coalition with 61 seats at least. That’s what Netanyahu is betting on”. Some experts, however, believe that “Netanyahu’s embrace of the Jewish Power party weakens one of the key points used by defenders of Israel to keep away the charges against Israel, in general, and Netanyahu in particular.” Finally, the President of the Israeli New Fund, Professor David Meyers saw that “Israel is witnessing a stormy election battle”, but admitted that “the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not central to it”. “With such a situation”, he concluded, “the (Jewish) settlement project has won, which means a national suicide.”

The party’s ‘Kahana is alive and/ or always right’ slogan means national fanaticism and the pursuit of a Jewish state that rejects the secular Jew and does not have a place for the Arabs in particular. This proves that the roots of racism lie deep in the Israeli society and that right-wing extremism is no longer an anomaly among Israeli parties with their different orientations.