Israel’s most controversial rapper is now a Likud member and no one should be surprised. Yoav Eliasi, more commonly known as “The Shadow (הצל),” joined the party in a ceremony with MK Oren Hazan on Wednesday.
Aside from producing mediocre Hebrew rap, Eliasi is known for his right wing activism on social media. He helped organize demonstrations in support of IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who shot and killed an immobilized Palestinian terrorist in Hebron. Eliasi frequently demonizes left-wing activists and incites hate before a Facebook audience nearly 250,000 strong.
Eliasi said in an interview to Army Radio: “I supported Bibi but now, actually, it could be that he’s done his share, he’s contributed a lot to this country, and now we need new blood. I want to restore the Likud to what it used to be—right wing without zigzagging.”
And that’s why Oren Hazan was the perfect MK to welcome him into the party. Hazan, is the Likud’s ‘new blood.’ His experience before the Knesset involved managing a casino in Bulgaria where he allegedly helped guests secure drugs and prostitutes. He is a perfect reflection of the road on which the Likud finds itself.
“We haven’t known each other for long, but I feel that Yoav is like my brother, so I call him Yoav and not the Shadow. There are many things in which we’re similar. We both look at this Knesset and are fed up with the political correctness that has taken over it. The public is fed up with the cowardly and obsequious leftist discourse. It’s for good reason that Yoav has a quarter of a million followers on social networks. We are both free of political correctness.” Hazan said.
Of course, Eliasi’s page is free of both political correctness and cogent thought. Instead, he posts racist, hateful messages. According to Anat Rosilio, head of the Berl Katznelson Foundation’s hate speech index, “The Shadow’s Facebook page is, consistently, one the places where we find the highest incidents of hate speech.”
Hazan and Eliasi hope to recruit the rapper’s social media followers as registered Likud members, forming a “Likud guard” group. The “Likud guard” would protect the Likud from the “the cowardly and fawning left.”
The inclusion of Hazan and the Shadow in the Likud is worrying. Not only do they reflect dangerous right wing trends in Israel, they threaten to legitimize vitriol and hate in the Jewish state’s political mainstream. It is telling that so few Likud MKs spoke out about Hazan and the Shadow. Benny Begin, son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, spoke out, stating, “We must not accept into the party a person who acts like a bully, takes pride in that and incites others to act in the same way. When he applies to be a member of the Likud he casts a shadow on me.” However, Begin represents a minority in the Likud, a party that is now truly a shadow of its former self.
What once was a party that fought to give voice and respectability to marginalized and dissenting voices has now turned to demonizing all they disagree with, turning Zev Jabotinsky’s vision of social equality into a hotbed of racism and hate. Time will tell if this strategy will remain effective at keeping the Likud in power, but there can be no doubt that it is mortgaging its soul to do so.