Israeli Supreme Court cracks down on right-wing; allows extremist Arab MKs to run for Knesset

The court has rejected arguments made by Otzma Yehudit candidates that they are not racist. 

By World Israel News Staff 

Though disqualifying members of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party from running in Knesset elections, Israel’s Supreme Court continues to allow the non-Zionist, predominantly Arab Joint List from competing despite the stated opposition to a Jewish state by the Balad Party, which is one of the Joint List partners.

On Sunday, Supreme Court Justice David Mintz repeated an earlier position that he believed that Balad should be disqualified. He said, in a minority opinion, that all of the Joint List should be banned from running because of Balad’s inclusion in the bloc.

Balad members have been indicted for supporting terrorism. Balad leader and past MK Azmi Bishara fled Israel over allegations of cooperating with the enemy. Ex-MK Basel Ghattas served prison time for smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners.

Yet another former Balad parliamentarian, Hanin Zoabi, joined the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, in which passengers, trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, clashed with Israeli forces.

However, the court continues to allow Balad and the Joint List to run, even though it disqualified Otzma Yehudit candidates Baruch Marzel and Benzi Gopstein on Sunday from vying in the September 17 election. Earlier, prior to the April 9 parliamentary ballot, the court banned another Otzma candidate, former MK Michael Ben-Ari, from participating in the elections.

The court has rejected arguments made by Otzma Yehudit candidates that they are not racist and that comments which they have made that might sound racist were said during the heat of debate but do not represent a larger ideology of hate.

“To call for the murder of [Israeli] soldiers is alright but to fight against assimilation is not allowed,” ridiculed Gopstein, who heads the Lehava organization, which works to prevent Jews from marrying outside of the faith.

His comment is similar to other statements made on Israel’s right questioning whether the Israeli Supreme Court has employed a double standard in ruling on the disqualification of various candidates, showing latitude toward Arab hopefuls and a strictness regarding right-wing Jewish candidates.