Baruch Marzel of Otzma Yehudit, who is on the number four spot on Yachad – Ha'am Itanu's joint list, submitted his response on Wednesday to the Central Elections Committee against the petition by leftists to try and block his candidacy for the Knesset.
In the response, which was submitted by his lawyer Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir of Otzma Yehudit, Marzel ripped apart the petition that was entirely based on snippets from internet articles and news stories.
"You can't base a petition…on newspaper clippings, certainly not when the petitioner didn't even bother to check with the respondent (Marzel) whether the quotations written as being from him were accurate or not," the response read.
Giving an example, Ben-Gvir noted the petition claims Marzel called in a radio interview "to throw Molotov cocktails at Sudanese," but in the actual recording of the interview it becomes clear Marzel never said those words.
The attorney added that even if the false quotations had been true, "they don't constitute a reason to establish any pretext of racism, certainly not to prevent someone from running in elections for the 20th Knesset."
The central claims in the petition allege that Marzel cursed Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh and Jewish MK Dov Khanin, both of the communist Hadash party, during a trip they took to Marzel's hometown of Hevron. The petition also focuses on Marzel's refusal to shake hands with Central Election Committee head Arab judge Salim Joubran when submitting the party list.
"Petition proves Marzel isn't racist"
Marzel pointed out that these very arguments prove without a doubt that he isn't "racist," given that he doesn't distinguish between Jews and Arabs, between Khanin and Barakeh, but rather "anyone who is against the state, I'm against them."
Regarding the incident with Joubran, Marzel explained he did so out of protest over how Joubran "protects (pro-Hamas MK Hanin) Zoabi, and during a hearing held about her he defended her again and again, and likewise he releases rock and firebomb throwers, and on the other hand deals severely with right-wing activists."
"I also didn't shake the hand of (Jewish judge Dorit) Beinisch or the hand of (Jewish judge Elyakim) Rubinstein. I have that right, and I will continue to criticize the court," Marzel said, noting it would be a catastrophe if that became "a pretext for barring a candidate from running in Knesset elections."
"Even if (Marzel) cursed MK Barakeh, or claims there isn't coexistence in the state, and even if he dared not to shake the hand of the Elections Committee chair, is that a reason to bar someone from running in elections for the Knesset in a democratic country?" asked Ben-Gvir.
It was predicted in advance that attempts would be made to bar Marzel, as such attempts have been made in the past and failed.
While Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote to Joubran calling the refusal to shake his hand "racism," Marzel noted at the time that his refusal was not related to Joubran's race, but rather "because at every opportunity he had he came out against the people of Israel and IDF soldiers." Back in 2012, Joubran raised a storm by refusing to sing Hatikva, the national anthem of the state of Israel which he serves.