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Netanyahu whitewashing far-right activists

For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, all means to guarantee his electoral victory are legitimate, including embracing radical right-wing activists.
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Since he first served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, Benjamin Netanyahu has warned voters of a dangerous tide of “leftism.” He utters the word with contempt and fear, as he would the name of a communicable disease. Netanyahu, along with his fellow Likud members and those to the right of them (HaBayit HaYehudi and New Right parties), all see a “leftist virus” spreading and threatening to infect all Israelis. The way they see it, anyone who is not one of them has probably come down with the “leftism” disease. “Whoever says he’s not right and not left, is left,” Netanyahu claimed following the Jan. 29 maiden speech by his rival Benny Gantz, who urged voters to put the good of the state before divisive partisanship. Netanyahu’s close ally, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, went further, declaring on Feb. 2, “Anyone who is not Likud is left.”

However, Netanyahu is still unhappy. According to Israeli law, votes cast in favor of a party that does not reach the Knesset entry threshold are lost. And so, fearing a loss of votes for his right-wing bloc in the April 9 elections, the prime minister is busy extending its borders and is even willing to include those once considered the “forbidden right.” These are disciples and admirers of radical activist Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party platform called for a forceful expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens. In 1984, Kahane was elected to the Knesset, but when he got up to speak, Likud lawmakers, including then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, would often walk out in protest.

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