Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked outrage among the left when he brokered a merger between the Jewish Home party and alt-right party Otzma Yehudit in an effort to safeguard a right-wing majority in Israel’s upcoming elections this April. Otzma Yehudit-- Jewish Power in English--has long been removed from mainstream Israeli politics, written off as Kahanists--a sect of Israeli politicians with radical, anti-Arab beliefs based upon the ideology of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a racist assassinated in 1994 after delivering a lecture in New York.
The prevailing criticism of Netanyahu itself over the move is telling of an employed double-standard by the Israeli and international left-wing. Otzma Yehudit is no more than a fringe group and unequivocally removed from major political discussions. Even the merger affords little platform to the outrageous views of the party, instead serving to exclusively benefit the right-wing Israeli bloc politically, a larger body which by significant majority espouses policy inclusive of all Israeli citizens. Bringing in Otzma Yehudit was a purely political act--unifying the Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit to cross the required threshold for representation in the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) and contribute to the larger bloc, a far-cry from bringing the radical views into the conventional political sphere. Similar moves are made in nearly every election cycle: Netanyahu on Facebook alluded to a particular instance in which Azmi Bishara was elected to Knesset with widespread leftist support despite suspicions of being a Hezbollah undercover agent.
In spite of this, Netanyahu has faced immense censure from left-wing media and governments wholly unfit to be doling out such criticism when they themselves share inflammatory views. Most of these groups overtly express support for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, groups whose radical policies are actionable and for this reason far exceed those of Otzma Yehudit. In January 2014, a Jerusalem council member affiliated with Otzma Yehudit, Aryeh King, distributed over a thousand flyers to Arab residents of Jerusalem asking them to leave in exchange for a sum of money in what was likely the most egregious act of the party in recent years. Without question, such an act is deserving of criticism for racist and undemocratic undertones.
The Palestinian Authority on the other hand allocates over 7% (around $360 million) of their national budget towards monetary compensation for individuals and families of individuals who commit acts of terror/ murder against Israelis and specifically Jews.
“Now, Israel has decided to deduct this sum from the tax it collects for us. As a matter of fact, we have decided to refuse to receive all the tax funds. We don’t want it. We don’t want the tax funds. Let them keep it. If we had only 20-30 million shekels, which is the [monthly] sum paid for the families of martyrs, we would still pay it to them. If the P.A. doesn’t have anything other than that amount, I will pay it to the families of the martyrs, the prisoners and the wounded.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the above in a February 19th speech proclaiming that not only is he committed to snubbing his populace of funds out of a distaste for Israel, but he values terrorism so highly that he would devote money to it quite literally until the government budget runs dry. This is deserving of criticism on a whole other level than the pamphlet-protest , yet receives little by comparison.
The disparity between Otzma Yehudit and bona fide terrorist entities is evident, yet is unreflected in media coverage and international attention. Netanyahu is assailed for having allegedly “appealed to racism” while the Palestinian Authority is gifted over $540 million annually from the United Nations to facilitate terrorist activity and the propagation of violence in the region. There is a clear distinction to be made between the negative rhetoric put forth by Otzma Yehudit and the regular terrorist attacks condoned and incited by Palestinian leadership. So when the Palestinian Authority and Hamas remain unscathed by the international community while Netanyahu is bashed for a political stratagem, an appalling double-standard arises unfairly pitting Israel against all else.