The Central Elections Committee voted 18-10 today to bar Rabbi Meir Kahane’s extreme rightwing Kach list from participating in the July 23 Knesset elections. There were seven abstentions.
The decision was the first time in Israel’s history that a Jewish political faction was banned from an election. An Arab “Socialist List” was banned 19 years ago on grounds that its objective was to undermine the existence of the State. Supreme Court Justice Gavriel Bach, chairman of the Elections Committee, maintained that Kahane’s list undermines the principles of democracy itself. Kahane said he would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
The ruling against Kach indicated to some observers that the Elections Committee will also bar the Arab-Jewish “Progressive List for Peace” which calls in its platform for creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel reduced to its pre-June 1967 borders. The list is headed by an Arab nationalist attorney, Mohammed Miari and its second spot is occupied by Gen. (res.) Mattityahu Peled, long active in the Israeli peace movement.
WANT PROGRESSIVE LIST” OFF TOO
The Committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the “Progressive List” application later today. It is strongly opposed by the Likud, Tehiya and other members of the Committee. The attitude of the Labor Alignment is not certain. Defense Minister Moshe Arens has declined to outlaw the list, although he may under the law on national security grounds.
Tehiya MK Geula Cohen claimed that “If we do not ban the list, the PLO will have for the first time a representative in the Knesset. ” Miari was on the “Socialist List” banned nearly two decades ago.
The bid by Kach was supported by Tehiya, the National Religious Party, Aguda Israel and Tami, all members of the Likud-led coalition. It was opposed by the Labor Alignment, Shinui, Civil Rights Movement, and the Communist Party, Likud was split. Some supported Kach but six abstained.
ANTI DEMOCRATIC STATERMENTS
Bach denounced the Kach list after hearing testimony form Kahane. The American-born rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League convinced him that he should not be allowed to run in the Knesset elections, Bach said. He cited Kahane’s description of Israel’s Declaration of Independence granting equal rights to all citizens as a “schizophrenic document” and his call for the deportation form Israel of the Arab, Druze and Circassian minorites.
“Only in very extreme cases should one ban a list because it is a basic democratic right to allow the expression of views, even those which are detestable, ” Bach said. However, the line must be drawn somewhere. “If a man such as Kahane enters the Knesset and enjoys immunity, anti-Semites throughout the world will no longer need the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. If ever a democracy protecting itself had the right to ban a list, this is the case,” Bach said.
Kach ran in both the 1977 and 1981 elections but failed both times to win enough votes for Knesset representation.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.