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Far-right party's campaign ad banned for racism: Just the tip of the iceberg

If a campaign ad inciting against Arab citizens of Israel is deemed illegitimate, then why not the party responsible for it, or any of the myriad Knesset members who have also engaged in similar forms of incitement as well, whether against Africans, Palestinians, the LGBT community or Israeli leftists?

Israel’s Central Election Committee disqualified an ad campaign last week by a new party called Otzma Leyisrael (Strength to Israel), citing that it singles out and incites against the Arab sector in Israel and is therefore racist. The campaign ads, posted on buses and billboards across Israel, included the word “loyalty” in Arabic, with a Hebrew caption underneath that reads: “Because without duties there are no rights.”

Otzma LeYisrael election ad that was banned for being racist (Ela Greenberg)

The decision by committee chairman Judge Elyakim Rubinstein was made after a group of civil rights activists, including Meretz MK Mossi Raz, filed a complaint with the committee. One of the petitioners, Ela Greenberg, told me, “none of us did this as an organization or with organizational backing. We are just private citizens and this was for me an exercise in realizing that we do have some power and influence and we need to use it.”

The ad is not surprising when you consider the people behind it. This new party is comprised of violent, hyper-nationalist, xenophobic, Jewish supremacist settlers. Its members are the ones behind the periodic anti-African rallies in south Tel Aviv, the anti-Arab rallies in Umm al Fahm and are responsible for countless incidents of incitement against Palestinians, asylum seekers and Israeli leftists. If anyone is interested in their latest hate speech, here is a video of an anti-African “Hannukah rally” they held last week in Levinsky Park:

Party chairman, Ayreh Eldad, who lives in the settlement Kfar Adumim (close to the E-1 area), made his policy on asylum seekers clear last summer when he said, “Anyone that penetrates Israel’s border should be shot, a Swedish tourist, Sudanese from Eritrea, Eritreans from Sudan, Asians from Sinai. Whoever touches Israel’s border – shot.”

The party’s number two, Michael Ben-Ari, is a former member of Meir Kahane’s outlawed Kach party (banned in 1988 for incitement to racism) and has become well-known for acts such as defiling a New Testament all MKs were given a gift, as well as calling on the IDF to shoot border infiltrators in the head.

The number three in the party is Baruch Marzel, an American-born settler from Hebron, who I have seen assault Israeli left-wing activists with my own eyes (never been tried) and who is an equal-opportunity bigot, having expressed contempt not only for Arabs, Africans and Israeli leftists, but for the LGBT community as well.  The party list also includes Aryeh King, one of the primary operatives behind the Judaization of East Jerusalem, who runs the Israel Land Fund.

Once you understand who these men are (to the best of my knowledge there is no woman on their ticket), what they have done in the past and what they are capable of, the banned ad campaign targeting Arabs looks like a relatively moderate speck in a much more fundamental and ominous problem. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) issued a statement following the banning of the campaign arguing that “isolated disqualification” is not the solution because “racist speech that severely harms minorities has been legitimized in the current mainstream political discourse.”

Indeed, what could be more evident proof of the institutionalization and normalization of bigotry and fascism in Israel the presence of such a party, some of whose members already have an office in Israel’s Knesset? And It doesn’t stop with this party. MKs from Likud, Kadima and Shas have all gone on record making racist and incendiary statements against either Africans or Israeli leftists, or both.

And let’s not forget about (former) Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his party, Yisrael Beiteinu. Otzma LeYisrael was not the first to propose conditioning the rights of Arab citizens of Israels on the  notion of “loyalty” to the Jewish state. After the campaign was banned last week, MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari noted  that it could not possibly be racist, as Yisrael Beiteinu’s campaign slogan in the previous election, crafted by Lieberman himself, had pretty much the same message: “No loyalty, no citizenship.” Israel’s Knesset even approved the “citizenship law” in March 2011, proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu, which gives the Supreme Court the power to revoke citizenship from citizens convicted of treason, espionage and terrorism. At the time, even Israel’s Shabak (General Security Service) warned there was no need for the law, and that its purpose appeared to be the delegitimization of Arab citizens.

So the question remains: If this ad campaign is deemed illegitimate, then why not the Otzma LeYisrael party as well (which is essentially the reincarnation of the outlawed Kach party)? Why not Yisrael Beiteinu’s platform and the bill they pushed through Knesset? And why not all the MKs from various parties who have engaged in incitement or slander?
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    1. The Trespasser

      Why won’t we start even further and delegitimize the entire USA – aren’t they demanding an oath of allegiance from all immigrants?

      A severe breach in human rights it is.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        So Palestinian-Israeli’s are new immigrants?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          There is no such thing as “Palestinian-Israelis”

          Reply to Comment
          • Philos

            OK, are Israeli-Arabs new immigrants?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Some of them are indeed. Much less since 2003(?) when the new law was applied – which IMO should be cancelled.

            The new immigrant’s issues is rather irrelevant anyway – Lieberman proposes to apply the law to ALL Israelis – immigrants or not.

            Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        Does the US oath of allegiance reference the Christian faith, or any othe religion, does it reference a certain ethnic group or does it define the United States as a White Anglo-Saxon country?

        Yes or no?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Did you ever bother to read the oath?

          “… that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America …”

          The question is whether the Constitution of USA gives any preference to Christianity?

          I’m in no way an expert of the Constitution, but some believe that it does.

          White Anglo-Saxons analogy is irrelevant.
          Black or Chinese would have really hard time becoming White Anglo-Saxons, while anyone could rather easily became a Jew.

          Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        Not exactly! An amusing part of “oath of loyalty” bill is that it would require the oath of loyalty from non-Jewish immigrants only. No doubt because there are anti-Zionist immigrants who would never make an oath to the secular state.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >it would require the oath of loyalty from non-Jewish immigrants only.

          Is that so?

          Anyhow, IMO such oath must be obligatory for all citizens of Israel, current and future, of all races and faiths.

          Those who do not wish to take the oath could have civilian rights – no voting, no balloting, no rat meat ratios.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Mitchell Cohen

      So do we agree that the above ad is racist against Haredim as well?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Aaron Gross

      No more or less racist than Israel’s constitution as a “Jewish state” or a “state of the Jews.”

      Reply to Comment
    4. Kolumn9

      Sure, Ben-Ari is a racist, but how is the ad itself racist? As Mitchell points out Haredim also fall into its message.

      If I ran an ad in America along the lines of ‘no citizenship, no services’ would that be considered racist because most non-citizens are Hispanic? This seems like an awfully convenient way to close off discussion of political disagreements.

      If the CEC is going to be overly stringent about enforcing election laws then it should be banning Balad. There is a party that openly campaigns of a message of fighting against the nature of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state which should be enough to ban them from elections.

      Reply to Comment
      • Oriol2

        It’s considered racist, I suppose, because the word “Loyalty” is written in Arabic. If the ad were directed against the Haredim, perhaps it would be bilingual (Hebrew / Yiddish 🙂
        Anyway this incident confirms my impression that the policies of the State of Israel are a weird mixture of institutional racism and of progressivism. It is true that Israel-Palestine lives in a virtual apartheid -a moderated one in comparison with the real stuff in South Africa-, but nonetheless I have seen in Spain political ads and rhetoric against immigrants (especially Moslem and Latino) and Catalan and Basque separatists which go much further than this, and they are very rarely prosecuted.

        Reply to Comment
        • Piotr Berman

          There is nothing weird in mixing extreme nationalism and progressivism. Ever heard about “national socialism”? If anything, the American version of reactionary ideology is an outlier.

          Reply to Comment
        • Spanish

          Do you mean ads from legal political parties? Could you please provide examples that go “much further than this” and are “very rarely persecuted”? Serious question here. I haven’t seen any, but if that is the case, I would really like to know and do something about it. Did you (do something about it)?

          Reply to Comment
          • Oriol2

            If you live anywhere near Catalonia, have you seen electoral ads by Josep Anglada and/or García Albiol? The video game promoted by PP youth where “Alicia Croft (=Alicia Sánchez Camacho) appeared killing illegal residents and Catalan separatists?

            Reply to Comment
      • Due Process and the Equal Protection of the laws is not limited to citizens in the US, for the Constitutional wording prohibits such.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          And yet my campaign wouldn’t be racist, would it?

          Reply to Comment
          • See my other comment, below. I wouldn’t ban it. Racism in speech is distinct from the denial of racism under equal protection.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Carl

      Can a Hebrew speaker clarify the ‘Jewish monarchy’ (~1m.25) reference. Is this a biblical (eg. King David) justification?

      I should add that the speeches are depressingly, but predictably foul.

      Much obliged.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        It’s poor translation. The Hebrew word they are using means “kingdom” “monarchy” or “sovereign” and “sovereignty”

        Reply to Comment
        • Carl

          Much obliged Philos.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Rights are a stay against the State, not granted by the State for correct behavior. But Israel has no constitution, and the no longer so slow motion contest underway is whether it will (ever) have one. If the Kenesset can remove citizenship under one condition, it can do so in any other condition. Citizenship should also be a check on the State. A fully soverign Kenesset is against your Declaration of Independence, and I have come to understand why the document is met with silence when mentioned.

      Strangely, the banned add would seem to imply a fully racially intergrated military.

      Since Israel has no guarantee of free speech (although an early High Court decision affirmed freedom of the press), about anything can be banned. I personally do not think poltical adds should be banned. I doubt controlling speech is going to remove the increasingly dominant speech of today.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >Rights are a stay against the State, not granted by the State

        What rights? Right for food and shelter? Right for personal security?

        >But Israel has no constitution, and the no longer so slow motion contest underway is whether it will (ever) have one.

        What exactly constitution has to do with rights? Canada, New Zealand,
        Saudi Arabia and UK also have no written constitutions.

        >Strangely, the banned add would seem to imply a fully racially integrated military.

        Strange it might seem only to an ignorant one.

        It is only Israeli Left and Arab parties who are against fully racially integrated military.

        >Since Israel has no guarantee of free speech.

        >about anything can be banned.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Ben Zakkai

      As a hard leftist (voted Hadash last time), I’m appalled by this limitation on free speech. The right controls this country and has no qualms about stifling dissenting speech. We shouldn’t play that game and give them a “me too” justification. Otzma’s ad was disgusting but didn’t incite to violence, so it shouldn’t be banned.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Finally, an actual liberal shows up.

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Interesting agenda xD

        I’ve read it till “to cancel all state companies’ privatizations”

        No surprise Hadash only has 4 seats.

        Inshallah all Commies disappear from the face of the Earth.

        Reply to Comment
        • David

          >Inshallah all Commies disappear from the face of the Earth.

          Your buddy wished that also.
          But he called it “jüdischer Bolschewismus” and took action to fullfill it.

          Reply to Comment
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