He’s denounced Arab members of the Knesset as “terrorists” and “enemies of the state.” He denies the existence of a Palestinian people and has warned that “Palestinianism” – that is, support for Palestinian rights – is a virus more dangerous than COVID-19. Addressing a demonstration this summer in support of Israeli annexation of the West Bank, he said he was “not sure we need so many Arabs in the Land of Israel.”
He’s been widely quoted in the French press as saying he regretted that Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated because he should have been tried in a military court for signing the Oslo Accords (which were meant to pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state).
Amid the chaos that erupted at last week’s World Zionist Congress over what was widely seen as an attempted Orthodox takeover, his appointment to a key position in one of the most important institutions in the Jewish world was hardly noticed. But as of next week, World Likud movement co-chairman Jacques Kupfer will assume control of the Department for Diaspora Affairs at the World Zionist Organization.
Its mission, as defined on the WZO website, includes “building bridges between Jews everywhere in the world,” “talking about Israel from all angles,” “making connections between Jewish communities and Israel on five continents,” and “strengthening Zionist identity among young Jews.”
A Facebook post published several days ago by a far-right organization founded and run by Kupfer described his appointment to this distinguished position as a “revolution,” noting that he was determined “to carry out big projects to generate, with the help of God, a renewal of the Zionist spirit in the Diaspora and Israel.”
As part of the deal struck last week among the various factions of the World Zionist Congress, many important positions in the WZO and its affiliate organization, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, were handed over to Likud. These include director of the WZO’s Department for Diaspora Affairs – a position that for the past five years had been filled by Gusti Yehoshua Braverman, a representative of the Reform movement.
Until now, this department’s responsibilities had included outreach to the Zionist federations around the world. In order to avert a major crisis in the Jewish world, the Reform movement was allowed – among several last-minute concessions made to the progressive Zionist parties and the non-Orthodox movements – to retain this small part of the portfolio. Likud, in exchange, was granted a brand new subdivision in the department focused on outreach to French-speaking Jews.
‘Racist and violent’
A former head of Likud in France, Kupfer is known even within Likud circles as an extremist whose views are not necessarily representative of Israel’s ruling party. A staunch advocate of the settlement enterprise, he has taken Netanyahu to task for abandoning his plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank. He has also organized fundraisers and solidarity marches for the Jewish settlement in Hebron.
He supports not only the annexation of the entire West Bank but also the reconquest of the Gaza Strip, evacuated by Israel 15 years ago. He often refers to the former president of the United States as “Hussein” Obama. He calls Israeli democracy a form of “idolatry” that threatens the Jewish character of the state, and in recent months has denounced the tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “anarchists” and “useful idiots.”