Jewish-American rabbis, organizations, and donors have lashed out at Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to ensure a racist, far-right party is part of the next parliament.
Netanyahu has pushed for weeks for an election pact between Otzma Yehudit, an extremist party that includes supporters of the racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, and the religious-Zionist Habayit Hayehudi party, Haaretz reported.
He convinced both to join forces Wednesday and run on a joint ticket in the April 9 election, increasing their chances of winning seats in the Knesset.
"This will complicate efforts to advocate for Israel, especially within the Jewish community. What are we supposed to tell our children?" former Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., warned, per Haaretz.
"We, Zionists, and supporters of Israel in America, spend so much effort to rightly expose and highlight incitement on the Palestinain side. So, when the prime minister gives this legitimacy to such an extreme party, it hurts our efforts. I fear that it will introduce some degree of moral equivalence and serve to rationalize incitement. That's not helpful."
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism – the largest Jewish organization in North America – called it "deeply distressing to imagine that those who follow in the footsteps of Meir Kahane could be welcomed into Prime Minister Netanyahu's political circle," Haaretz reported.
And Susie Gelman, a major Jewish philanthropist who has supported Jewish and Israeli institutions for decades, told the news outlet she found the efforts "absolutely shocking."
"I have had policy disagreements with Netanyahu before, but this raises a new question: Is there any line of decency and morality that he will not cross?" she added, Haaretz reported.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also weighed in on social media.
"There should be no room for racism & no accommodation for intolerance in Israel or any democracy," he tweeted. "ADL previously has spoken out on hate-filled rhetoric of leaders of the Otzma Yehudit party, it is troubling that they are being legitimized by this union."
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