Statement Following the Elections in Israel

The voters of Israel have spoken in a free and fair election, and it appears that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu will, in the coming days, be provided the opportunity to form the next government of the State of Israel.

The organized Jewish community of Greater Boston holds a deep respect for and commitment to the democratic process, both in our country and in Israel. We welcome and support the efforts already underway by the current government to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.

We also take this moment to note that Israel’s electoral system can lead to political results that do not fully reflect the will of all of the people of the nation, not unlike the electoral system in the United States. This week’s election campaign and results suggest a nation that is deeply divided, even as the electoral process will likely provide a distinct mandate to the parties currently in opposition. Those who would celebrate this outcome, and those who will be dismayed by it, should all take heed of this reality as we discuss and interpret the meaning of this election. In the coming years we will continue to strive to engage with curiosity to understand these differences among the Israeli people and with those in our own community who will have differing responses to this outcome.

What remains true, for us, the Jewish Community Relations Council on behalf of the organized Jewish community of Boston, is our deep love for and commitment to the people and the State of Israel. JCRC will continue to work every day to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. JCRC will continue to support all those who live and work there, our friends and partners on the ground who are striving every day to build an inspiring future of equality and opportunity for all of Israel’s citizens. JCRC will continue to work with our friends and partners to advance the conditions for peace and co-existence with Israel’s neighbors. JCRC will continue to confront and challenge those who deny the legitimacy of the Jewish people’s right to statehood and those who hold Israel to standards that they do not apply to any other democratic state.

At the same time, we would be remiss to not take note of the success of the Otzma Yehudit faction in this election. This party was founded by disciples of Meir Kahane and is understood to be a successor to his Kach movement – which was banned by the State of Israel and declared a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States.

It is the long-held view of JCRC and of a broad sector of the American Jewish community – going back many decades and oft reaffirmed - that the anti-democratic, racist, and violent values of Kach, and now of Otzma Yehudit, are anathema to our Jewish values and to the values expressed in Israel’s declaration of statehood ensuring “complete equality of social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion”. It is because of our continued and unyielding commitment to Israel as a Jewish, secure, and democratic state that JCRC has stated before and we restate now that we abhor any effort to normalize these views and to bring these actors into any governing coalition.

As Israel’s political parties enter a period of negotiations over the form of the next coalition government, we take this moment to express our hope that responsible leaders across the ideological spectrum will recognize and appreciate that the inclusion of an extreme faction like Otzma Yehudit in the coming coalition could have potentially significant consequences: for Israel’s democratic character; for Israel’s relationship with some of its strongest allies in our Congress (who have already expressed concerns); and for Jewish communities like ours that take inspiration from Israel’s declaration of statehood in our continued work in partnership with and support for all its people.

JCRC has communicated to the representatives of the government of Israel and to our partners and friends in Israel our concerns, our commitments, and our hopes for the coming period of negotiations.