Impervious to reality, Otzma Yehudit vows to run again

One of the leaders of the far-right party said they would be running in the next elections as well.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Despite seeing their voting strength drop from 80,000 to 20,000 between this election and last, the far-right Otzma Yehudit (or “Jewish Strength”) party vows to fight on in the next election, whenever that might take place.

Baruch Marzel, one of its leaders, who could not run on the party list after his candidacy, was dismissed by the Supreme Court due to racist statements against Arabs, said the party would run again during a Tuesday morning radio interview.

Otzma Yehudit has never succeeded in making it into the Knesset, consistently failing to pass the electoral threshold. However, in Israel’s system, votes going to a party that doesn’t make it into the Knesset are lost. This fact has caused much grief to Israel’s Right in the last two elections.

In September, Otzma achieved an impressive 83,609 votes, all of which were lost to the right-wing bloc.

Party leaders resisted efforts from others on the Right to withdraw from running in Monday’s elections.

Shortly before the election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to meet with the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Dov Lior, former rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, in order to ask him to use his influence to convince the party’s leaders to quit the race.

Rabbi Lior refused to meet with Netanyahu.

“I am very sorry that I cannot fulfill your request to call for Otzma Yehudit to quit, as I see it as a movement that believes in the principles I adhere to, and there is no cost in the world that could make me reject the ideology I believe in,” Lior said in a letter, according to website Srugim.

Earlier in January, the Likud issued a statement saying, “the prime minister expects [Otzma leader Itamar] Ben-Gvir to drop out of the race in order to guarantee right-wing rule.”

Otzma leaders ran on the campaign that only with Otzma in the Knesset would Netanyahu have enough votes to form a right-wing government.

However, Otzma Yehudit leaders admitted, at least in private, that they had no chance to pass the electoral threshold, but that it was important to run in order that their message be heard.