‘Otzma Yehudit’, or ‘Jewish Power’ party, was formed by followers of the late Brooklyn Born extremist, Meir Kahana. After immigrating to Israel, he established the ‘Kach’ Party that advocated expulsion of Arabs from Israel. ‘Kach’ gained it’s only-ever seat in parliamentary elections in 1984. Kahana’s presence at the Knesset led to great criticism from both sides of the political map, and consequently, in 1988, ‘kach’ was outlawed in Israel and was being declared as racist and anti-democratic, and declared a terrorist group by the United States government. Kahana was assassinated in 1990 by a Muslim terrorist in NY.
‘Otzma Yehudit’ party, has tried to run for Israeli Knesset in the past four elections, but never received enough voices to pass the election threshold (3.25%). Toward the upcoming Israeli election, PM Netanyahu promised ‘ha-Bayit ha-Yehudi’, the Religious Zionist party, two ministerial posts if they agreed to the merger with ‘Otzma Yehudit’. Netanyahu encouraged the merger of the right-wing parties as part of a strategy to ensure that these smaller parties pass the electoral threshold in order not to lose potential Knesset seats.
This political move has received a lot of criticism from American Jewry, Rabbis and leaders in Israel and around the world. Replying, the supporters of this move have claimed it is only a technical move, not ideological one, and that ‘Otzma Yehudit’ will not be an inherent part of the coalition.
Read more about it in the sources below:
The Jerusalem Post
"Liberal Modern-Orthodox Rabbis Slam PM's 'Lamentable Failure' Over Otzma Yehudit"
"A Day After Netanyau Orchastrates Kahanist Merger, AJC Joins Condemnation"
Jewish News Syndicate (JNS)
"In Rare move, AIPAC, AJC Condemn ‘Racist and Reprehensible’ Otzma Party"
The Jerusalem Post (JP)
"A Vote for Bayit Yehudi is a Vote for Nazism, Says Rabbi Benny Lau"
The New York Times
"Netanyahu Sparks Outrage Over Pact With Racist Party"