Israel’s Supreme Court banned on Sunday, August 25, a pair of senior members of the extreme-right and racist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party from running in the general elections to be held on September 17.
Justices also threw out a petition submitted by the Likud and Otzma Yehudit demanding that the high court rescind the decision of the Knesset’s Central Elections Committee (CEC) earlier this month to reject a petition disqualifying the Joint List from running in the elections.
The nine-member panel of justices voted unanimously in favor of disqualifying the Otzma Yehudit candidate Benzi Gopstein and similarly disqualified the running of Baruch Marzel from the same party by a vote of 8 for and 1 against. However, the court dismissed separate petitions calling for the banning of party chairman Itamar Ben Gvir from running for the Knesset as well as one calling for the disqualification of the entire Otzma Yehudit slate.
The disqualified Gopstein leads the racist Lehava organization, which opposes interfaith and inter-ethnic interaction, relationships and marriages. Lehava has held violent protests outside mixed Jewish-Muslim weddings and along the routes of gay pride parades, and has called on the public to alert the organization to cases where Jewish women “are discovered to be dating Arab men.”
Marzel led extremist rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party after its founder’s assassination in 1990, and has long been identified with the faction’s goal of forcibly cleansing the country of Arabs. He continued to be among its top supporters until it disbanded in 1994 after the Israeli government declared it a terror group. “There is no place in the Knesset for Kahanists who undermine democracy and back violence against innocents. Their place is in prison,” said MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) who attended the Supreme Court hearing, last Sunday.