Monday, February 9, 2009

"we are against racism and for the Torah" - Israeli Orthodox parties stretches out olive branches to Arabs ahead of elections

In the wake of the increasingly racist political climate in Israel (with the openly racist Avigdor Lieberman advancing in opinion polls), parties representing ultra-Orthodox Jews have sought to differentiate themselves by reaching out to Arab citizens of Israel. Ynet reports on the campaign of United Torah Judaism in Arabic communities, spreading leaflets (see picture) stating "Lieberman = Racism" and calling for Haredis and Arabs to fight racism jointly.

In a comment, UTJ MK Moshe Gafni stated that "we are against racism and for the Torah, and the Torah clearly says 'Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.'" (a bit odd to call the indigenous Arab population 'aliens', huh?) Rabbi Obadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of another ultra-Orthodox party (Shas), has stated that the act of voting for Lieberman is an eternal sin and dubbed Lieberman's followers as 'supporters of Satan'.

However, whilst Arab votes for parties like Labour is likely to evaporate completly in these elections, there are few signs that the positions of the ultra-Orthodox parties would mobilize any major number of Arabs to vote for them. The ultra-Orthodox parties retain a hawkisk approach to negotiations with Palestinians. Both UTJ and Shas strongly support expanding settlements on occupied Palestians territories. During the Gaza massacre, Shas distributed thousands of leaflets calling for prayers in favour of IOF soldiers. And both UTJ and Shas are likely to support a Likud government.

News links on the elections: 1, 2, 3, Blogs: Anna W, UFH, Reza, Roya, Jinge, Bildt, TN, Judaistik, Rooieravotr

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