Meir Kahane

Meir Kahane

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Martin David Kahane also known as Meir Kahane , was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

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

i 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...

 and ultra-nationalist writer and political figure. He was an ordained Orthodox
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 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...

  and later served as a member of the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i 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...

. Kahane also used the pen name
Pen name
A pen name, nom de plume, or literary double, is a pseudonym adopted by an author. A pen name may be used to make the author's name more distinctive, to disguise his or her gender, to distance an author from some or all of his or her works, to protect the author from retribution for his or her...

s Benyac and David Sinai and the pseudonyms Michael King, David Borac, and Martin Keene.

Kahane gained recognition as an activist for Jewish causes, such as organizing Jewish self-defense groups in deteriorating neighborhoods and the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate. He later became known in the United States and Israel for political and religious views that included proposing emergency Jewish mass-immigration to Israel due to the imminent threat of a "second Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

" in the United States, advocating that Israel's democracy be replaced by a state modeled on Jewish religious law, and promoting the idea of a Greater Israel
Greater Israel
Greater Israel is a controversial expression with several different Biblical and political meanings over time.Currently, the most common definition of the land encompassed by the term is the territory of the State of Israel together with the Palestinian territories...

 in which Israel would annex 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 Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

. In order to keep Arabs, who he stated would never accept Israel as a Jewish state, from becoming a numerical majority in Israel, he proposed a plan allowing Arabs to voluntarily leave Israel and receive compensation for their property, and forcibly removing Arabs who refused.

Kahane founded both the 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"...

 (JDL) in the USA and Kach
Kach and Kahane Chai
Kach was a far-right political party in Israel. Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the early 1970s, and following his Jewish nationalist ideology , the party entered the Knesset in 1984 after several electoral failures...

 ("This is the Way"), an Israeli political party. In 1984 he became a member of 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...

 when Kach gained one seat in parliamentary elections. In 1988, the Israeli government banned Kach as "racist
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...

" and "undemocratic" under the terms of an ad hoc
Ad hoc
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

 law. In 1994, following the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre
Cave of the Patriarchs massacre
The Cave of the Patriarchs massacre was a terrorist attack that occurred when Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler and member of the far-right Israeli Kach movement, opened fire on unarmed Palestinian Muslims praying inside the Ibrahim Mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs site in Hebron in the...

 perpetrated by a Kahane follower, Kach was outlawed completely. The U.S. State Department listed it as a terrorist organization in 1994.

Kahane was assassinated in a Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 hotel by an Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 gunman in November 1990 after Kahane concluded a speech warning American Jews
American Jews
American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

 to emigrate to Israel
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 before it was "too late."

Early life and education


Kahane was born in Brooklyn, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, 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...

 in 1932 to an Orthodox Jewish
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 family. His father, Rabbi Yechezkel Sharaga Kahane, was born in Safed
Safed
Safed , is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of , Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters...

, Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 (in present-day, Israel), in 1905, and went to study in Polish and Czech 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...

 religious schools.

As a teenager, he became an ardent admirer of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Peter Bergson, who were frequent guests in his parents' home, and joined the Betar
Betar
The Betar Movement is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir Jabotinsky. It has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group...

 (Brit Trumpeldor) youth wing of Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

. He was active in protests against Ernest Bevin
Ernest Bevin
Ernest Bevin was a British trade union leader and Labour politician. He served as general secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers' Union from 1922 to 1945, as Minister of Labour in the war-time coalition government, and as Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government.-Early...

, the British Foreign Secretary who maintained restrictions on immigration of Jews (including Nazi concentration camp survivors) to Palestine after the end of the Second World War. In 1947 Kahane was arrested for throwing eggs and tomatoes at Bevin, as the latter disembarked at Pier 84 on a visit to New York. A photo of the arrest appeared in the New York Daily News
New York Daily News
The Daily News of New York City is the fourth most widely circulated daily newspaper in the United States with a daily circulation of 605,677, as of November 1, 2011....

. In 1954, he became the mazkir (director) of Greater New York City’s sixteen Bnei Akiva
Bnei Akiva
Bnei Akiva is the largest religious Zionist youth movement in the world, with over 125,000 members in 37 countries. It was established in Mandate Palestine in 1929.-History:...

 chapters.

Kahane’s formal education included elementary school at the Yeshiva of Flatbush  and high school at the Brooklyn Talmudical Academy
Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy
The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, also known as Yeshiva University High School for Boys , MTA or TMSTA , is an Orthodox Jewish day school , the boys' high school of Yeshiva University in the Washington Heights neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan.-History:The Talmudical...

. Kahane received his rabbinical ordination
Semicha
, also , or is derived from a Hebrew word which means to "rely on" or "to be authorized". It generally refers to the ordination of a rabbi within Judaism. In this sense it is the "transmission" of rabbinic authority to give advice or judgment in Jewish law...

 from the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and earned a B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 from Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College is a senior college of the City University of New York, located in Brooklyn, New York, United States.Established in 1930 by the New York City Board of Higher Education, the College had its beginnings as the Downtown Brooklyn branches of Hunter College and the City College of New...

. He was fully conversant with the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 and Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 (Jewish Bible), and worked as a pulpit rabbi and teacher in the 1960s. Subsequently, he earned a J.D.
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 from New York Law School
New York Law School
New York Law School is a private law school in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. New York Law School is one of the oldest independent law schools in the United States. The school is located within four blocks of all major courts in Manhattan. In 2011, New York Law School...

 and an L.L.M. from New York University Law School.

Serving as Pulpit Rabbi


In 1956, Kahane married Libby, with whom he had four children. In 1958, he became the rabbi of the Howard Beach
Howard Beach, Queens
Howard Beach is a suburban neighborhood in the southwestern portion of the borough of Queens in New York City. It is bordered in the north by the Belt Parkway and South Conduit Avenue in Ozone Park, the south by Jamaica Bay in Broad Channel, the east by 102nd-104th streets, and the west by 78th...

 Jewish Center in Queens
Queens
Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. The largest borough in area and the second-largest in population, it is coextensive with Queens County, an administrative division of New York state, in the United States....

, New York City. The synagogue was traditional rather than strictly Orthodox. At the Jewish Center, Kahane influenced many of the synagogue’s youngsters to adopt a more observant lifestyle. But when he attempted to install a mechitzah, a partition that is used to separate men and women, many of the key synagogue members turned against him. His contract was not renewed and he soon published an article entitled “End of the Miracle of Howard Beach.” This was Kahane’s first article in the Jewish Press
The Jewish Press
The Jewish Press is an American weekly newspaper, geared toward the Modern Orthodox Jewish community. It describes itself as "America's Largest Independent Jewish Weekly." The newspaper has a politically conservative viewpoint and editorial policy....

, American-Jewish weekly, for which he continued to write until his murder in 1990.

Infiltrating John Birch Society


In the late 1950s to early 1960s, Kahane led a life of secrecy. His strong anti-Communist views landed him a position as a consultant with the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 (FBI). According to his wife Libby, his assignment was to infiltrate the anti-Communist John Birch Society
John Birch Society
The John Birch Society is an American political advocacy group that supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic and personal freedom. It has been described as radical right-wing....

 and report his findings back to the FBI.

As reported by Michael T. Kaufman
Michael T. Kaufman
Michael T. Kaufman was a writer for the New York Times. He won the 1978 George Polk Award for foreign reporting for coverage of Africa. He died at St...

 in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 (and subsequently followed up by The Village Voice
The Village Voice
The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City...

 in the early 1980s), Kahane (under his pseudonym Michael King) allegedly had an affair with a non-Jewish woman, Gloria Jean D'Argenio. In 1966, Kahane/King allegedly sent a letter to D'Argenio in which he unilaterally ended their relationship. In response, D'Argenio jumped off the Queensboro ("59th Street") Bridge; she died of her injuries the next day. According to Kaufman, Kahane admitted to him that "he loved Ms D'Argenio and had sent roses to her grave for months after her death." He also established a foundation which carried the name she used in her modeling career, Estelle Donna Evans. Ads for the foundation appeared weekly in the Jewish Press, although the group never filed legally required financial documents detailing what it did with the money it collected.

Activism



Kahane founded the 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"...

 (JDL) in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in 1968. JDL's self-described purpose was to protect Jews from local manifestations of anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

. Hate crimes and discrimination against Jews were very relevant at the time of mass exodus of urban Jewish population into suburbs; those Jews unable or unwilling to move often became victims of violent crimes in the racially and ethnically changing neighborhoods. JDL members led protests against anti-Semitic teachers in the public school system, provided escorts for elderly Jews and educated Jewish youth in the art of self-defense. However, it was the criticism of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 that garnered support for the group, transforming it from a "vigilante club" to an activist organization with membership numbering over 15,000. JDL organized mass rallies in New York against the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's policy of persecuting Zionist activists and curbing Jewish immigration to Israel. JDL played lead role in the "Free Soviet Jewry" movement ("Let My People Go!") and pushed for the release of Russian refusenik
Refusenik (Soviet Union)
Refusenik was an unofficial term for individuals, typically but not exclusively, Soviet Jews, who were denied permission to emigrate abroad by the authorities of the former Soviet Union and other countries of the Eastern bloc...

s and their resettlement in Israel. JDL also protested against the oppression of Jewish population in Muslim countries, fought Neo-Nazis
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

 in the United States and resisted Christian missionaries' activity to convert Jews.

Emigration to Israel, Knesset service



In 1971, Kahane emigrated to Israel
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

.

When he moved to Israel, Kahane declared that he would focus on Jewish education. However, he soon began initiating protests advocating the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories. In 1972, Jewish Defense League leaflets were distributed in 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 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...

. He was arrested dozens of times. In 1971, he founded the Kach
Kach and Kahane Chai
Kach was a far-right political party in Israel. Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the early 1970s, and following his Jewish nationalist ideology , the party entered the Knesset in 1984 after several electoral failures...

 party. In 1973, the party ran for 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...

 (Israeli parliament) during the general 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 party won 12,811 votes (0.82%), just 2,857 (0.18%) short of the electoral threshold at the time (1%) for winning a Knesset seat. The party was even 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...

, winning 4,836 votes.

In 1980, Kahane was arrested for the 62nd time since his emigration and jailed for six months following a detention order based on allegations of planning armed attacks against Palestinians in response to the killings of Jewish settlers. Kahane was held in a maximum-security prison in Ramla
Ramla
Ramla , is a city in central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after the Arab conquest of the region...

, where he wrote the book They Must Go. Kahane claimed in the book's preface that one of his cellmates was a Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 from the Negev
Negev
The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab. The origin of the word Neghebh is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

 about to be released after serving an eighteen-year prison sentence for the rape and murder of a Jewish girl.

In 1981, Kahane's Kach party again ran for the Knesset during 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...

, but did not win a seat, receiving only 5,128 votes. 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...

 had banned him from being a candidate on the grounds that Kach was a racist party, but the Israeli 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...

 overturned the ban on grounds that the committee was not authorized to ban Kahane's candidacy. The Supreme Court suggested that the Knesset pass a law that would authorize the exclusion of racist parties from future elections, and the Anti-Racist Law of 1988 was later passed. In the 1984 legislative 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...

, Kahane's Kach party received 25,907 votes, enough to give the party one seat in the Knesset, which was taken by Kahane. Kahane refused to take the standard oath of office
Oath of office
An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations...

 and insisted on adding a Biblical verse from Psalms
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

, to indicate that when the national laws and Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 conflict, Torah (Biblical) law should have supremacy over the laws of the Knesset.

Kahane's legislative proposals focused on transferring the Arab population out from the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, revoking Israeli citizenship from 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" 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 to 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, 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 among the Israeli public, especially among working-class Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

. 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 Israel's third largest party.

In 1985, the Knesset passed an amendment to Israel's Basic Law, barring "racist" candidates from election. The Central Elections Committee banned Kahane a second time, and he appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court. This time, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the committee, disqualifying Kach 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...

. Kahane was thus the first candidate in Israel to be barred from election for racism.

Assassination


In November 1990, following a speech to an audience of mostly Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, as a crowd of well-wishers gathered around Kahane in the second-floor lecture hall in midtown Manhattan's Marriott East Side Hotel, Kahane was assassinated. He was shot to death by 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 who was initially charged and acquitted of the murder. Nosair was later convicted of the murder in United States district court incident to the trial for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
1993 World Trade Center bombing
The 1993 World Trade Center bombing occurred on February 26, 1993, when a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,336 lb urea nitrate–hydrogen gas enhanced device was intended to knock the North Tower into the South Tower , bringing...

. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and later made a confession to federal agents. Kahane was buried on Har HaMenuchot
Har HaMenuchot
Har HaMenuchot is the largest cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel. It is located at the western edge of the city adjacent to the neighborhood of Givat Shaul, with commanding views of Mevaseret Zion to the north, Motza to the west, and Har Nof to the south.-History:...

 in Jerusalem.

Ideology


Kahane argued that there was a glory in Jewish destiny, which came through the observance of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

. He stated that, "democracy and Judaism are not the same thing."

Kahane also believed that a Jewish democracy with non-Jewish citizens was self-contradictory because the non-Jewish citizens might someday become a numerical majority and vote to make the state non-Jewish: "The question is as follows: if the Arabs settle among us and make enough children to become a majority, will Israel continue to be a Jewish state? Do we have to accept that the Arab majority will decide?" "Western democracy has to be ruled out. For me that's cut and dried: there's no question of setting up democracy in Israel, because democracy means equal rights for all, irrespective of racial or religious origins."

Kahane proposed the forcible deportation of nearly all Arabs from all lands controlled by the Israeli government. He framed this deportation as an "exchange of populations" that would continue the Jewish exodus from Arab lands
Jewish exodus from Arab lands
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries was a mass departure, flight and expulsion of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Muslim countries, from 1948 until the early 1970s...

: "A total of some 750,000 Jews fled Arab lands since 1948. Surely it is time for Jews, worried over the huge growth of Arabs in Israel, to consider finishing the exchange of populations that began 35 (50) years ago." Kahane proposed a $40,000 compensation plan for Arabs who would leave voluntarily, forcible expulsion "for those who don’t want to leave," and encouraged retaliatory violence against Arabs who attacked Jews: "I approve of anybody who commits such acts of violence. Really, I don’t think that we can sit back and watch Arabs throwing rocks at buses whenever they feel like it. They must understand that a bomb thrown at a Jewish bus is going to mean a bomb thrown at an Arab bus."

Kahane proposed that Israel expand its boundaries "according to the description given in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

." He said, "the southern boundary goes up to El Arish, which takes in all of northern Sinai, including 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...

. To the east, the frontier runs along the western part of the East Bank of the Jordan River, hence part of what is now Jordan. Eretz Yisrael
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

 also includes part of Lebanon and certain parts of Syria, and part of Iraq, all the way to the Tigris River. When critics suggested this would mean perpetual war between Jews and Arabs, Kahane answered, "There will be a perpetual war. With or without Kahane."

Political legacy




Following Kahane's death, no charismatic leader emerged to replace him in the movement, although the idea of transferring populations gained traction in Israel. Two small Kahanist factions later emerged; one under the name of Kach and the other Kahane chai (Hebrew: כהנא חי, literally "Kahane lives [on]"), led by his younger son, 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...

.

In 1994, following the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre
Cave of the Patriarchs massacre
The Cave of the Patriarchs massacre was a terrorist attack that occurred when Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler and member of the far-right Israeli Kach movement, opened fire on unarmed Palestinian Muslims praying inside the Ibrahim Mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs site in Hebron in the...

 of Palestinian Muslim worshippers in 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...

 by Kach supporter Dr. 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....

, in which 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers were killed, the Israeli government declared both parties to be terrorist
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...

 organizations. The U.S. State Department also added Kach and Kahane Chai to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
"Foreign Terrorist Organization" is a designation of non-United States-based organizations declared terrorist by the United States Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act...

.
Providing funds or material support to these organizations is a crime in both Israel and the USA.

In late 2000, as bombing attacks on Israel during the Al-Aqsa 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...

 began, Kahane supporters spray-painted graffiti on hundreds of bus shelters and bridges all across Israel. The message on each target was identical, simply reading: "Kahane was Right".

On December 31, 2000, Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane and his wife Talya were shot to death as they returned from Jerusalem to their home in the Israeli 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...

 of 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...

, and five of their six children wounded. Palestinian gunmen fired more than 60 machine-gun rounds into their van.

In the 2003 Knesset elections Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

, which split off from the National Union
National Union (Israel)
The National Union is an alliance of nationalist political parties in Israel. In the 2009 elections the National Union consisted of four parties: Moledet, Hatikva, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu, and Tkuma.-Background:...

 list, ran with Michael Kleiner
Michael Kleiner
Michael Kleiner is an Israeli politician and leader of Herut – The National Movement.He first entered the Knesset in 1981 as a Likud parliamentarian but, upon then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu relinquishing Hebron to the Palestinian Authority, Kleiner split off from the Likud along with Benny...

 and former Kach activist 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...

 taking the top two spots on the list. The joint effort narrowly missed the 1.5% barrier. In the following 2006 elections Jewish National Front led 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...

, fared better but also failed to pass the minimum threshold. 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 the 2009 elections
Israeli legislative election, 2009
Elections for the 18th Knesset were held in Israel on 10 February 2009. These elections became necessary due to the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as leader of the Kadima party, and the failure of his successor, Tzipi Livni, to form a coalition government...

 on renewed National Union
National Union (Israel)
The National Union is an alliance of nationalist political parties in Israel. In the 2009 elections the National Union consisted of four parties: Moledet, Hatikva, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu, and Tkuma.-Background:...

 list, is a self-declared follower of Kahane who was involved with Kach for many years.

Supporters


In an article written in January 2001 on a forum of the 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"...

, activist Joe Kaufman praised the Kahane movement and its founder Meir Kahane. In that article Kaufman said of Kahane: "It was perfectly understandable, if he were to have hated Arabs. Just like, during the Holocaust, it was perfectly understandable for a Jew to hate Germans…If the Kahanes' memory serves us any purpose, it's to show that trust (and peace) is ultimately between only ourselves."

In a 1971 interview, Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 made positive comments about Kahane. In Time Magazine, Dylan stated, "He's a really sincere guy. He's really put it all together." According to Kahane, Dylan did attend several meetings of the Jewish Defense League in order to find out "what we're all about" and started to have talks with the rabbi.

Publications

  • (Partially under pseudonym Michael King; with Joseph Churba
    Joseph Churba
    Joseph Churba was a United States Air Force Middle East intelligence expert, author, and political activist known for his support of Israel. Churba was born in Brooklyn, New York City into a Jewish family which was originally from Syria. He spoke both Hebrew and Arabic...

    ) The Jewish Stake in Vietnam, Crossroads, 1967
  • Never Again! A Program for Survival, Pyramid Books, 1972
  • Time to Go Home, Nash, 1972.
  • Letters from Prison, Jewish Identity Center, 1974
  • Our Challenge: The Chosen Land, Chilton, 1974
  • The Story of the Jewish Defense League, Chilton, 1975, 2nd edition, Institute for Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane, (Brooklyn, NY), 2000
  • Why Be Jewish? Intermarriage, Assimilation, and Alienation, Stein & Day, 1977
  • Listen, Vanessa, I Am a Zionist, Institute of the Authentic Jewish Idea, 1978
  • They Must Go, Grosset & Dunlop, 1981
  • Forty Years, Institute of the Jewish Idea, 2nd edition, 1983
  • Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews, Lyle Stuart, 1987
  • Israel: Revolution or Referendum, Barricade Books (Secaucus, NJ), 1990
  • Or ha-ra'yon, English title: The Jewish Idea, n.p. (Jerusalem), 1992, translated from the Hebrew by Raphael Blumberg, Institute for Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (Jerusalem), 1996
  • On Jews and Judaism: Selected Articles 1961–1990, Institute for Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (Jerusalem), 1993
  • Perush ha-Makabi: al Sefer Devarim, Institute for Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (Jerusalem), 1993, 1995
  • Pirush HaMaccabee: al Sefer Shemu'el u-Nevi'im rishonim, Institute for Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (Jerusalem), 1994
  • Listen World, Listen Jew, 3rd edition, Institute for the Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (Jerusalem), 1995
  • Beyond Words, 1st edition, Institute for the Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (Jerusalem), 2010.
  • Kohen ve-navi: osef ma'amarim, ha-Makhon le-hotsa'at kitve ha-Rav Kahana (Jerusalem), 2000
  • Cuckooland, illustrated by Shulamith bar Itzhak (yet unpublished).
  • [ftp://samsonblinded.org/Rabbi-Meir-Kahane/ DVD-quality downloadable videos of Meir Kahane's lectures], SamsonBlinded.org


Also author of Numbers 23:9: "... lo, it is a people that shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations," I. Block, 1970s. Contributor—sometimes under pseudonym Michael King—to periodicals, including New York Times. Editor of Jewish Press, 1968.

For supplementary information and insights:
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Rabbi Meir Kahane by Lenny Goldberg
  • Miracle Man, Yeshivat HaRaayon HaYehudi (Jerusalem), 2010
  • Kahane et le Kahanisme" by Shulamith Bar Itzhak.
  • Meir Kahane: Ideologue, Hero, Thinker by Daniel Breslauer. Lewiston/Queenston: Edwin Mellen Press
    Edwin Mellen Press
    The Edwin Mellen Press, based in Lewiston, New York is a niche publisher of scholarly material and advanced research in the humanities and social sciences. They publish a variety of tomes including monographs, bibliographies, concordances, dictionaries, conference proceedings, dissertations, and...

    , 1986.
  • The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance: The Struggle Against Kahanism in Israel by Raphael Cohen-Almagor
    Raphael Cohen-Almagor
    Raphael Cohen-Almagor is an educator, researcher and human rights activist. He received his D. Phil. in political theory from Oxford University in 1991, and his B.A. and M.A. from Tel Aviv University . In 1992-1995 he lectured at the Hebrew University Law Faculty...

    . Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1994.
  • The False Prophet: Rabbi Meir Kahane, from FBI Informant to Knesset Member by Robert I. Friedman. Brooklyn, NY: Lawrence Hill Books, 1990.
  • Heil Kahane by Yair Kotler. New York: Adama Books, 1986.
  • Israel’s Ayatollahs: Meir Kahane and the Far Right in Israel by Raphael Mergui and Phillipe Simonnot.
  • The Roots of Kahanism: Consciousness and Political Reality by Aviezer Ravitzky.
  • Kach and Meir Kahane: The Emergence of Jewish Quasi-Fascism by Ehud Sprinzak.
  • Rabbi Meir Kahane: His Life and Thought. By Libby Kahane, 2008.

External links




Videos


Audios