The Central Elections Committee today branded Rabbi Meir Kahane’s anti-Arab Kach Party racist and anti-democratic and barred it from competing in the Nov. 1 election.
“It was a political lynching,” Kach candidate Rahamim Cohen said. Kahane vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The committee’s head, Eliezer Goldberg, said: “The request for the barring of Kach has been accepted. It is still subject to judicial review.”
In 1984, the Supreme Court overturned a similar committee decision that would have barred Kach from competing in parliamentary elections that year. Since then, Parliament has passed a bill banning racism from political activity.
“In 1984, we didn’t have an anti-racist law. Today we have, and I hope (Kahane’s) appeal to the high court will not be successful,” said Police Minister Chaim Bar-Lev.
Bar-Lev, a leading member of the left-of-center Labor Party, told reporters his party supports the ban even though Labor would gain if Kach drew votes from the right-wing Likud bloc.
The disqualification passed 28 to 5 with three abstentions. The motion was brought by seven parties, including Likud and Labor.
Cohen rejected the charge that the party is racist and called the Arabs “a hostile population.”
“That is the source of our attitude toward them, not the fact that they are part of another nation or are another color or practice another religion,” Cohen said.
Kach spokesman Baruch Marzel said the party is confident the Supreme Court will overturn the decision. “With the help of God they will reinstate our list,” he said.
Kahane, who was born in New York City and founded the Jewish Defense League in the United States, founded Kach, which means “Thus” in Hebrew. It calls for the ouster of Arabs from all Israeli-held territory and opposes Jewish-Arab marriages.
Arguing for Kach’s disqualification, left-wing legislators compared Kahane’s anti-Arab platform to the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies during World War II.
“When the Jewish people become the dominant majority does it also mean they treat (minorities) as those other nations did that lost all shades of humanity?” said Haim Ramon of Labor.
Meanwhile, Labor and Likud traded new allegations over an alleged wiretapping scandal dubbed the “Israeli Watergate.”
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, head of Likud, was quoted today in the daily Yediot Aharonot as saying Labor’s alleged bugging of Likud campaign headquarters was a “shameful phenomenon.”
Shamir also was quoted as telling a closed forum of supporters that his party must “shake the world and do anything to stop them (Labor)” from winning the election.
“When I consider the possibility that the Likud may not win, it drives me mad,” the Maariv daily quoted him as saying. “They (Labor members) are capable of anything; they must be stopped.”
Bugging Probe Asked
Likud has asked Atty. Gen. Yosef Harish to investigate Labor on suspicion it bugged Likud facilities and the home phone of campaign Chairman Moshe Arens. Harish is considering the request.