For the fifth time since 2019, Israelis went to the polls yesterday for free and fair democratic elections. Based on election results, it is very likely that Likud Leader Benjamin Netanyahu will be selected to form the next government and will return to office as Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

While the voters of Israel have spoken and election results must be respected, JCRC is concerned about the growing presence of the far-right Religious Zionism party in the new Knesset. This party includes the ultra-nationalist faction Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Strength”) led by Itamar Ben Gvir, who is a self-described follower of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane’s Kach party was previously banned by Israel, and was declared a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States.

Such an openly racist and antidemocratic faction has no place in an Israeli governing coalition. JCRC is concerned such a development could negatively impact a range of issues, including the Jewish nature of the state, civil issues such as marriage and conversions, the rights of LGBTQ Israelis, Israel-Jewish diaspora relations, Israel’s democratic norms, and relations between Jewish and Arab Israelis and Palestinians.

JCRC embraces Zionism, which is the right of Jews to self-determination and sovereignty in our ancient homeland of Israel, and supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We also support a strong and enduring U.S.-Israel relationship, as well as equal rights and protections for all of Israel’s citizens.

We plan to communicate our concerns about the implications of welcoming Otzma Yehudit into the government to Israeli government officials, and will continue to keep our community updated as Israel processes the election.

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