Otzma Yehudit, what you need to know about the political party of Jewish Extremists
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Kehila News, Kehila News Israel Staff, September 25, 2019
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34
The largest political party that didn’t make it into the Knesset this past election was the extreme right-wing Otzma Yehudit. With a little over 80,000 votes, they received 1.88% of the votes, half-way from the electoral threshold of 3.25%
The party was established ahead of the 2013 election, but its members have gotten together in different constellations and reorganizations in the past. One of their members, Michael ben Ari, served as a Knesset member between 2009 and 2013.
In 2012 a Messianic ministry sent Bibles with the Old and New Testament to a number of Knesset members, Ben Ari among them. He protested by publicly tearing it up in front of cameras, saying that “this despicable book caused the inquisitions and the death of millions of Jews.”
The speaker of the Knesset at the time, Reuven Rivlin (who is now the President of Israel), severely reprimanded Ben Ari for it. Eventually the Israeli court ruled that this act as well as other racist remarks he made have disqualified him from running for office again.
Another member of the party is Ben-Zion Gopstein. He is the founder of the anti-assimilation organization Lehava, which organized the violent protest against the Messianic concert in Jerusalem earlier this year. Gopstein was also banned from being a candidate to the Knesset due to racism and violence.
Both Ben Ari and Gopstein, as well as other members of Otzma Yehudit, were all disciples of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, and former members of his political party “Kach.” Kach was founded in 1971 but not elected into the Knesset until 1984, and also then only had one Knesset member, Kahane himself.