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Monday, June 09, 2008

Was he a prophet?

During the Oslo War of 2000-04, it was common in Jerusalem to see the words "Kahane tzadak" (Kahane was right - pictured below but not from Jerusalem) scrawled on walls and bus stops as graffiti. The reference was to Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D (may God avenge his blood - Kahane was cut down by an assassin's bullet in 1990; the assassin was connected to the terror cell that would eventually carry out the 9/11 attacks) who warned that the Arabs in Israel were a ticking time bomb that would one day blow up in our faces. His solution was 'transfer' - paying the Arabs to leave. The solution was disparaged by Israel's branja (and Kahane and his party were ultimately banned from the Knesset as 'racist' in 1986), but a significant number of Israeli Jews believe today that Kahane was right and that 'transfer' is a good idea.

I mention this tonight because in honor of the 40th anniversary of Kahane founding the Jewish Defense League, his wife has penned an article which the Jerusalem Post (shockingly, but I praise them for doing it because Haaretz never would have) published about Kahane's founding of the JDL from the perspective of 40 years later. I urge all of you to read it. Here's an excerpt:
[The American Jewish] establishment's oft-repeated criticism was that the JDL's violent means were "un-Jewish."

Meir refuted this: "...From the days that our father Abraham went to battle against the four kings in order to save his nephew Lot, to the moment that Moses smote an Egyptian rather than create a committee to study the root causes of Egyptian anti-Semitism; from the Maccabees... to the students of Rabbi Akiva who were sent from their studies to fight in Bar Kochba's army... Jewish leadership has taken an active and violent part in the struggle for freedom."

THE IDEALS that Meir taught JDL members were based on Torah. An important tenet was ahavat Yisrael, loving one's fellow Jews and helping them. Ahavat Yisrael motivated JDL patrols and confrontations, and it applied to any Jew in trouble, even one far away in the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, there was no contact with Soviet Jews. Only in 1964 did information begin to leak out about their oppression. Circumcision was forbidden, and it was illegal to teach a Jewish child about his religion or to bake matzot for Pessah. No Soviet citizen was allowed to emigrate, so a Jew could not even practice his religion elsewhere. Official Soviet papers like Pravda fanned anti-Semitism by blaming the Jews for the Soviet Union's severe economic problems.

It was to solve their economic problems, and to buy American wheat at low prices, that the Soviets sought friendly relations with America. Meir saw the window of opportunity. He wrote:

"...Wracked by economic problems, [the Soviet Union] desperately needs friendship with the United States... If we can challenge this era of good feeling... it is possible that the Soviets will consider it not worth the bother of persecuting their Jews...

"We must make headlines, and they are made only by audacious and dramatic activities. If need be, these activities cannot be confined to sweet respectability and legality... It is not a pleasant task... This is not a job for people who fear getting their hands soiled."

In 1964, when Meir wrote this, few were willing to "get their hands soiled." By 1970, however, JDL members were accustomed to disregard "respectability." They were ready to bring the plight of Soviet Jews to the attention of the American public.

They disrupted Soviet ballet performances with shouts of "Freedom for Jews" and "Let my people go." At a performance in Chicago, someone threw a tear gas bomb, forcing the audience of 3,500 to leave. In Philadelphia, mice were let loose in the auditorium. Jews held rowdy demonstrations, shouting "Two, four, six, eight, let our people emigrate!"
While I cannot tell you that I personally agreed with all of Kahane's tactics (I would not have thrown tear gas in a crowded auditorium and I'm not sure I would have let mice loose either but I do recall demonstrating against the Bolshoi Ballet in Boston in high school and in New York in college - outside the halls), there is no question that Jews were his number one priority and that love of Jews motivated his actions. There is also no question that Kahane was straight thinking and correct about an awful lot of things that our politically correct society could not or would not (and cannot to this day) see.

For example, I mentioned above that Kahane was cut down by an assassin's bullet in 1990 (and I may have even mentioned on this blog that I was at work a few blocks away when it happened). The assassin was El Sayyid Nossair, who was eventually acquitted of the assassination (despite eyewitness testimony) but convicted of gun possession charges. If the name doesn't ring a bell with Americans, it ought to.
Nossair later stood trial as a co-conspirator of Shaikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Both men received life sentences for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, conspiracy to use explosives against New York landmarks, and plotting to assassinate U.S. politicians. Nossair received life plus 15 years of imprisonment. Nossair's relatives obtained funds to pay for Nossair's defense from Osama bin Laden.
The same people who hated Kahane hate America too.

Read the whole thing.

By the way, for those who have never seen it, the famous debate where Rabbi Kahane made mincemeat of a current Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert on Nightline (when Olmert was a young MK) is here.


At 12:30 AM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Thanks for the links, Carl. I had not seen the Nightline interview.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY'D was a great loss to us, and I also did not agree with some of the tactics, but feel he was the voice of wisdom, and too many who spit on his message then now realize that he was right.

BTW, my daughter went to Camp Betar, near Albany, NY.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Abu Yussif said...

why theoretically philosophize about israel's arabs when israel so habitually and impotently wrings her hands every time there needs to be some sort of confrontation with palestinian terrorists?

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Marvin Kaleky said...

Carl, I met Meir Kahane in Florida shortly before his tragic demise. He was a man of vision. He knew the right thing to do. Unfortunately, his ideas were never put into practice because of the left wingers in the Israeli gov't. who villified this great man. I have been a proponent of his idea of "transfer" of the Arabs for all this time, even before I met him. It is the only practical solution.

Marvin Kaleky
Tamarac, Florida

At 6:17 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Meir Kahane, HY'D, was a man ahead of his time. That's why he was hated. He correctly understood the Arabs nationalism can't be bought with material rewards, including land and either the Jews keep their state or they lose it. Unlike Israel's leaders today, who care only about keeping themselves in power, Kahane was concerned for the well-being of every Jew. The branja may have vilified his memory and seen family off to extinction but they could not kill his idea. That Israel is unique and the Jewish people have a special destiny apart from the nations. Israel indeed, will never be a "normal" country.


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