JERUSALEM (Oct. 13)
“I am neither a Nazi nor a racist,” Knesset member Meir Kahane told the High Court of Justice Thursday.
Kahane was appealing an almost unanimous decision by the Central Election Committee last week, which barred Kach from running in the Nov. 1 Knesset elections on grounds that it is racist and opposed to the country’s democratic institutions.
The decision was grounded in an 1984 amendment to the Basic Law, which bans parties that engage in racial incitement. The court is expected to announce its decision next Tuesday.
The controversial New York-born rabbi insisted that the ideas his Kach party espouses are rooted in the Torah.
Kahane appeared before the court with his attorney, Aharon Pappo.
Deputy Attorney General Dorit Beinish, arguing for the state, submitted as evidence bills Kahane introduced in the Knesset and quotations from Kach literature.
She said they proved the party is “racist, contrary to the democratic character of the state.”
These included proposed legislation that would make intermarriage or cohabitation between Jews and non-Jews a criminal offense; would separate Jews from gentiles at beaches; and would deny non-Jews the right of appeal to Israel’s supreme court.
“Everything (I say) is based on halacha and the Bible,” said Kahane. “This is not an attempt to ban Kahane, but rather a Judaism which is thousands of years old.”
His lawyer was more circumspect, claiming that the media was biased against Kahane and therefore took his remarks out of context.
He insisted that Kach is not undemocratic “because it does not question the structure of elected agencies and the elections to the Knesset.”
The movement “is not racist because racism can only be interpreted on a biological and hereditary background,” Pappo contended.
Meanwhile, the Likud and Tehiya parties were expected to submit Friday an appeal to the High Court of Justice against the decision of the Central Elections Committee to allow the predominantly Arab Progressive List for Peace to take part in the elections.