Kach and Kahane Chai

Kach and Kahane Chai

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Kach was a far-right political party in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane
Meir Kahane
Martin David Kahane , also known as Meir Kahane , was an American-Israeli rabbi and ultra-nationalist writer and political figure. He was an ordained Orthodox rabbi and later served as a member of the Israeli Knesset...

 in the early 1970s, and following his Jewish nationalist ideology (subsequently dubbed Kahanism
Kahanism
Kahanism is loosely defined as an nationalist ideology of dedication and self-sacrifice for Jewish causes, such as physical and spiritual freedom and safety of Jews in Israel and worldwide. The term is derived from the name of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane , founder of the Jewish Defense League in USA...

), the party entered the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 in 1984 after several electoral failures. However, it was barred from participating in the next election
Israeli legislative election, 1988
Elections for the twelfth Knesset were held in Israel on 1 November 1988. Voter turnout was 79.7%.-Results:1 Five members of the Likud left to form the Party for the Advancement of the Zionist Idea; after two returned, the party was renamed the New Liberal Party...

 in 1988 under the revised Knesset Elections Law
Knesset Elections Law
Knesset Elections Law is crucial legal document governing the process of elections in the Israeli parliament or the Knesset.The law was created in 1958 and updated in 1987.-References:* *...

 banning parties that incited racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

. After Kahane's assassination in 1990, the party split, with Kahane Chai breaking away from the main Kach faction. The party was also barred from standing in the 1992 election
Israeli legislative election, 1992
Elections for the thirteenth Knesset were held in Israel on 23 June 1992. The result was a victory for the left, led by Yitzhak Rabin's Labor Party, though their win was at least partially due to several small right-wing parties narrowly failing to cross the electoral threshold and thus effectively...

, and both organisations were banned outright in 1994. Today both groups are considered terrorist organisations by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Early history


Kahane emigrated to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in September 1971, at first declaring that he would only involve himself in Jewish education. However, he soon became involved in controversy, initiating protests advocating the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

. In 1972 Jewish Defense League
Jewish Defense League
The Jewish Defense League is a Jewish organization whose stated goal is to "protect Jews from antisemitism by whatever means necessary"...

 leaflets were distributed around Hebron
Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

 calling for the mayor to stand trial for the 1929 Hebron massacre
1929 Hebron massacre
The Hebron massacre refers to the killing of sixty-seven Jews on 23 and 24 August 1929 in Hebron, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine, by Arabs incited to violence by rumors that Jews were massacring Arabs in Jerusalem and seizing control of Muslim holy places...

.

In 1971 Kahane founded a new party, Kach, which ran in the 1973 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1973
The Elections for the eighth Knesset were held on 31 December 1973. Voter turnout was 78.6%.-Results:1 Aryeh Eliav left the Alignment and merged with Ratz to form Ya'ad - Civil Rights Movement...

 under the name "The League List". The name "Kach" ("Thus") was inspired by the Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

 slogan "rak kach" ("only thus"). The party won 12,811 votes (0.82%), just 2,857 (0.18%) short of the electoral threshold
Election threshold
In party-list proportional representation systems, an election threshold is a clause that stipulates that a party must receive a minimum percentage of votes, either nationally or within a particular district, to obtain any seats in the parliament...

 at the time (1%) for winning a seat. The party was less successful in the 1977 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1977
The Elections for the ninth Knesset were held on 17 May 1977. For the first time in Israeli political history, the right-wing, led by Likud, won the election, ending almost 30 years of rule by the left-wing Alignment and its predecessor, Mapai...

, in which it won 4,396 votes, and in 1980 Kahane was sentenced to six months in prison for his involvement in a plan to commit an "act of provocation" on the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

. The 1981 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1981
Elections for the tenth Knesset were held in Israel on 30 June 1981. Despite last minute polls suggesting a victory for Shimon Peres's Alignment, Menachem Begin's Likud won by just one seat...

 were another failure, with Kach receiving only 5,128 votes.

Electoral success



However, events in the next couple of years increased the party's popularity. In 1982 Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 as part of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
The 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C. on the 26th of March 1979, following the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and were witnessed by United States President Jimmy Carter.The peace...

 which involved evacuating Israeli settlers living in the peninsula. There was fierce resistance, particularly in Yamit
Yamit
Yamit was an Israeli settlement in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula with a population of about 2,500 people .The settlement was established during Israel's occupation of the peninsula from the end of the 1967 Six-Day War, until that part of the Sinai was handed over to Egypt in 1982 as...

, the largest settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

, where several extremists had barricaded themselves inside a synagogue and were threatening to commit suicide. Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

's government asked Kahane to act as an intermediary and convince them to give in.

Prior to the 1984 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1984
Elections for the eleventh Knesset were held in Israel on 23 July 1984. Voter turnout was 78.8%. The results saw the Alignment return to being the largest party in the Knesset, a status it had lost in 1977...

 the party was barred by the Central Elections Committee
Israeli Central Elections Committee
The Israeli Central Elections Committee is the body charged under the Knesset Elections Law of 1969 to carry out the elections for the upcoming Knesset. The committee is composed of Knesset members representating various parliamentary groups and is chaired by a Supreme Court Justice...

 for racism. It successfully appealed to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

, which reversed the CEC's decision, ruling that the Knesset Elections Law
Knesset Elections Law
Knesset Elections Law is crucial legal document governing the process of elections in the Israeli parliament or the Knesset.The law was created in 1958 and updated in 1987.-References:* *...

 (one of the Basic Laws of Israel
Basic Laws of Israel
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights...

) did not allow a party to be barred on the grounds of racism, but did suggest that the law be amended. In the elections the party won 25,907 votes (1.2%), passing the electoral threshold for the first time, and winning one seat, which was duly taken by Kahane.

Kahane's legislative proposals focused on revoking the Israeli citizenship for non-Jews and banning Jewish-Gentile marriages and sexual relations, based on the Code of Jewish Law compiled by Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 in the Mishneh Torah.

As his political career progressed, Kahane became increasingly isolated in the Knesset. His speeches, boycotted by Knesset members, were made to an empty parliament, except for the duty chairman and the transcriptionist. Kahane's legislative proposals and motions of no-confidence against the government were ignored or rejected by fellow Knesset members. Kahane often pejoratively called other Knesset members "Hellenists
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

" in Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 (a reference from Jewish religious texts describing ancient Jews who assimilated into Greek culture after Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

's occupation by Alexander the Great). In 1987, Rabbi Kahane opened a yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 (HaRaayon HaYehudi
HaRaayon HaYehudi
Yeshivat HaRaayon HaYehudi was established in 1987 by then-member of Knesset Rabbi Meir Kahane, with much funding from American supporters, at a temporary campus in Jerusalem's Mekor Baruch neighborhood. In the summer of 1989 the yeshiva moved to its permanent location at 11 Shmarya Street in the...

) with funding from US supporters, for the teaching of "the Authentic Jewish Idea".

Despite the boycott, Kahane's popularity grew. Polls showed that Kach would have likely received three to four seats in the coming November 1988 elections, with some earlier polls forecasting as many as twelve seats (10% of popular vote)., possibly making Kach third largest party.

In response to Kach's electoral success and following up on the recommendation of the Supreme Court, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Elections Law, which stated:


A candidates list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if its objects or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following:
  1. negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people;
  2. negation of the democratic character of the State
  3. incitement to racism



As a result, Kach was disqualified from running in the 1988 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1988
Elections for the twelfth Knesset were held in Israel on 1 November 1988. Voter turnout was 79.7%.-Results:1 Five members of the Likud left to form the Party for the Advancement of the Zionist Idea; after two returned, the party was renamed the New Liberal Party...

 by the Central Elections Committee. The party once again appealed the decision, with Kahane claiming that security needs were justification for discrimination against Arabs. This time the appeal was unsuccessful, with the court stating that the aims and action of Kach were "manifestly racist."

Kahane's death and party split


On 5 November 1990, Kahane was assassinated after making a speech in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. The prime suspect, El Sayyid Nosair
El Sayyid Nosair
El Sayyid Nosair is an Egyptian-born American citizen, convicted of involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing...

, an Egyptian-born American citizen, was subsequently acquitted of murder but convicted on gun possession charges. The party subsequently split in two, with Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane
Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane
Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane was a rabbi and the son of Rabbi Meir Kahane.Born in New York City, he emigrated to Israel with his family at the age of four, in 1971...

 (Kahane's son) leading a breakaway faction, Kahane Chai, based in Kfar Tapuach
Kfar Tapuach
Kfar Tapuach is an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, founded in 1978. It sits astride one of the major traffic junctions in the West Bank. The executive director of the village council is Yisrael Blunder. As of December 2007, it had 800 residents...

 (an Israeli settlement in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

) and Kach initially under the leadership of Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Avraham Toledano
Avraham Toledano
Avraham Toledano was the Mashgiach ruchani of the Yeshivat Haraayon Hayehudi and was number four on the Kach Knesset list in 1988. He was briefly the leader of Kach after Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered and before Baruch Marzel took over.-Biography:...

 (later replaced by Baruch Marzel
Baruch Marzel
Baruch Meir Marzel is an Israeli politician. Marzel, an American-born Orthodox Jew, lives in the Jewish community of Hebron in Tel Rumeida with his wife and nine children. He is the leader of the Religious Zionism-orientated Jewish National Front party...

) in Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba or Qiryat Arba , lit. "Town of the Four," is an Israeli settlement in the Judean Mountains region of the West Bank on the edge of Hebron. Its settlers consist of a mix of Russian immigrants, American immigrants, and native-born Israelis numbering close to 10,000...

. Both parties were banned from participating in the 1992 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1992
Elections for the thirteenth Knesset were held in Israel on 23 June 1992. The result was a victory for the left, led by Yitzhak Rabin's Labor Party, though their win was at least partially due to several small right-wing parties narrowly failing to cross the electoral threshold and thus effectively...

 on the basis that they were followers of the original Kach.

Following both parties noting their support of a grenade attack in Jerusalem's Old City, government minister
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

 Amnon Rubinstein
Amnon Rubinstein
Amnon Rubinstein is an Israeli law scholar, politician, and columnist. A member of the Knesset between 1977 and 2002, he served in several ministerial positions. He is currently dean of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a patron of Liberal International.-Early life:Rubinstein was born...

 asked the Attorney General
Attorney General of Israel
The Attorney General of Israel stands at the head of the legal system of the executive branch and the head of the public legal establishment, in charge of protecting the rule of law and as such entrusted with protecting the public interest from possible harm by government authorities...

 to launch criminal proceedings against both Kahane and Marzel on the charges of incitement to terrorism.

In 1994 both groups were banned outright by the Israeli cabinet
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

 under 1948 anti-terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 laws following statements in support of Baruch Goldstein
Baruch Goldstein
Baruch Kopel Goldstein was an American-born Jewish Israeli physician and mass murderer who perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125....

's massacre of 29 Palestinians at the Cave of the Patriarchs
Cave of the Patriarchs
The Cave of the Patriarchs or the Cave of Machpelah , is known by Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham or Ibrahimi Mosque ....

 (Goldstein himself was a Kach supporter). Many of their leaders spent time in Israeli jail under administrative detention
Administrative detention
Administrative detention is arrest and detention of individuals by the state without trial, usually for security reasons. A large number of countries, both democratic and undemocratic, resort to administrative detention as a means to combat terrorism, control illegal immigration, or to protect the...

, particularly Noam Federman
Noam Federman
Noam Federman is a religious right-wing Israeli Jew in Hebron and a former leader of the Kach Party which he has been involved with since he was 14. He has been held in administrative detention several times. Federman hosts a weekly Internet program called "Federman Without Censor"...

, who spent more than 6 months in lockup without being indicted. Yigal Amir
Yigal Amir
Yigal Amir is the Israeli assassin of Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin. The assassination took place on November 4, 1995 at the conclusion of a rally in Tel Aviv. Amir is currently serving a life sentence for murder plus six years for injuring Rabin's bodyguard, Yoram Rubin, under...

, who assassinated
Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on November 4, 1995 at 21:30, at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv...

 Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

 in 1995 was a member of Eyal (the Jewish Fighting Organization), established and headed by Avishai Raviv
Avishai Raviv
Avishai Raviv was an agent of Israel's Shin Bet or Shabak, Israel's domestic intelligence service whose mission was to monitor the activities of right-wing extremists. His code name was 'Champagne'....

 (a paid government informant) and portrayed as linked to Kach and Kahane Chai.

After being convicted for sedition for distributing pamphlets advocating violence against Arabs, Binyamin Kahane
Binyamin Kahane
Binyamin Kahane , 5 March 1911 – 30 October 1956, was an Israeli air force officer and pilot who, while on a reconnaissance sortie, sacrificed his life to save the ground troops he was supporting from attack. For his action he was awarded the Medal of Courage by the Israeli Defense Forces...

 and his wife were both killed in a Palestinian ambush in December 2000.

Aftermath



Following the banning of Kach and Kahane Chai, the movements officially disbanded. The leadership of the former Kahane Chai formed an advocacy group known as The Kahane Movement. The group's activities consist mainly of maintaining the Kahane website, kahane.org. However, the Kahane Movement is listed on the United States' list of terrorist organizations as an alias for "Kach", though the group denies this.

The New Kach Movement existed during between 2001 and 2003 and maintained websites posting Kahanist political commentary and held meetings with informal members. Headed by Israeli-born student Efraim Hershkovits, it had chapters worldwide as well as a youth movement, Noar Meir. Upon returning to live in Israel in 2003, Hershkovits disbanded the movement to avoid harassment by the Israeli government, advising its former members to support the Kahane Movement. After the organization had disbanded, its name was also added to the United States' list of terrorist organizations as an alias for "Kach". Hershkovits was arrested on August 7, 2005 and placed in administrative detention for three months by Israeli authorities.

Today the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 continues to designate the group a terrorist organization, and says that it has engaged in terrorist activity by
  • using explosives or firearms with intent to endanger the safety of individuals or cause substantial damage to property (including an attempt to car bomb a Palestinian girls school in East Jerusalem)
  • threatening and conspiring to carry out assassinations
  • soliciting funds and members for a terrorist organization

The State Department also says that the group is suspected of involvement in a number of low-level attacks since the start of the Second Intifada
Al-Aqsa Intifada
The Second Intifada, also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the Oslo War, was the second Palestinian uprising, a period of intensified Palestinian-Israeli violence, which began in late September 2000...

 in 2000.

In the 2003 elections former Kach leader Baruch Marzel ran as number two on the Herut – The National Movement party list. The party narrowly missed obtaining a seat. In 2004 he founded the Jewish National Front, which gained 24,824 votes (0.7%) in the 2006 elections, less than half needed to win a seat. Michael Ben-Ari
Michael Ben-Ari
Michael Ben-Ari is an Israeli politician, and a current member of the Knesset for the National Union party. He is the first outspoken disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahane to be elected to the Knesset. He has a Ph.D in Land of Israel studies.-Biography:...

, elected to the Knesset in 2009 on the Ihud Haleumi list, where he represents Eretz Yisrael Shelanu
Eretz Yisrael Shelanu
Eretz Yisrael Shelanu is a far-right religious party in Israel. Founded by Chabad Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo and Baruch Marzel on 11 November, 2008 it seeks to prevent both the creation of a Palestinian state as well as the dismantling of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.In 2008, in anticipation...

, is a self-declared follower of Rabbi Kahane who was involved with Kach for many years. Jewish National Front merged into Eretz Yisrael Shelanu prior to the election.

Former Kahane Chai chief executive Mike Guzofsky continues to solicit funds in the US, with the support of US Kahanists.

A 2009 Haaretz story accused Avigdor Lieberman of past membership in Kach, an accusation Liebermann denies.

See also




External links