Israel’s Supreme Court has banned the leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, Michael Ben Ari, from running in next month’s election.
The Justices ruled 8-1 on Sunday evening for Ben Ari to be disqualified because of his racist anti-Arab ideology and incitement. In August 2018 Ben Ari said: “[We] should first change the equation so anyone who merely dares to speak against a Jew is not alive. Is not alive. Not expelled, not revoked citizenship. Is not alive. A firing squad kills him. Exterminates him, as Arabs understand.”
The ruling marked the first time in the court’s history that an individual candidate, rather than a party or faction, has been banned. The court approved the Jewish Power candidate, Itamar Ben Gvir, and the Arab party Balad-Raam and Hadash candidate Ofer Cassif.
Cassif was accused of equating Israel and the Israeli military with the Nazis, with the Committee citing his call to fight “Judeo-Nazism” and his description of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as “neo-Nazi scum”. Balad-Raam were accused to denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.
Ben Ari condemned the decision to ban him by saying: “There is a judicial junta here which wants to take over our lives. They tell you there is a democracy here. It’s not a democracy, there is a judicial junta here, unfortunately, which took power into its hands.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said the court’s decision to ban Ben Ari: “Is a crass and misguided interference in the heart of Israeli democracy”.
In response to the court ruling, the Jewish Power party demanded that its partners, the Jewish Home and the National Union, give a ministerial position in the next government to Baruch Marzel. It has also demanded that Itamar Ben Gvir be promoted to fifth place in the Union of Right Wing Parties list, in place of Michael Ben Ari.
The Central Elections Committee, which is comprised of representatives of all the parties in the outgoing Knesset, had previously voted to approve the candidacy of Jewish Power candidates Ben Ari and Ben Gvir but to disqualify Balad-Raam and Cassif, who was in fifth place on the Hadash-Taal party list.