Rabbi Meir David Kahane (מאיר דוד כהנא, also known by the pseudonyms Michael King and David Sinai, 1 August 1932 – 5 November 1990) was an American-Israeli Orthodox rabbi and a former member of the Israeli Knesset.
Kahane was known in the United States and Israel for his strong political, nationalist views, exemplified in his promotion of a Greater Israel based on Jewish law. He founded two controversial movements: the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in the USA and Kach, an Israeli political party. In 1984, Kach gained one seat in the Knesset and Rabbi Meir Kahane became a member. In 1986, Kach was declared a racist party by the Israeli government and banned from the Knesset, and, in 1994, following the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre by Baruch Goldstein the movement was outlawed completely. Kahane's Knesset career was ended by section 7a of Basic Law: The Knesset (1958): "Prevention of Participation of Candidates List."
Kahane was assassinated in Manhattan in 1990, after concluding a speech in a New York hotel.
As a teenager, he became an ardent admirer of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who was a frequent guest in his parents' home, and joined the Betar (Brit Trumpeldor) youth wing of Revisionist Zionism. He was active in protests against Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary who blocked emigration of Nazi death camp survivors to the Jewish Homeland and opposed Israel's independence in favor of creating a Hashemite Arab monarchy dependent on British power. Kahane also organized and launched noisy public demonstrations in the USA against the Soviet Union's policy of persecuting Zionist activists and curbing Jewish emigration to Israel. He was active in the "Free Soviet (Russian) Jewry" movement and advocated policies designed to increase emigration of Russian refuseniks to Israel.
In the 1960s, Kahane was an editor of an American-Jewish weekly, Brooklyn's The Jewish Press, and was a regular correspondent for that paper.
Kahane advocated a Jewish State founded on Halakha. He believed that
Kahane advocated basing Israeli law on Halakha, including laws such as banning the sale of pork, outlawing missionary activities in Israel, and a ban on all sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews. Supporters say Kahane was protecting Torah values and the integrity of the Jewish nation, but his detractors consider Kahane's views bigoted. See: Jewish view of marriage.
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:
Kahane claimed that historically there are no examples of Arab Muslims living peacefully alongside other non-Arab ethnic groups. Thus Kahane proposed the forcible deportation of nearly all Arabs from all lands controlled by the Israeli government. When he served as a Member of the Knesset he proposed a $40,000 compensation plan for the Arabs he was to evict. But he made it clear that Arabs who refused compensation would be expelled by force:
Kahane proposed a Jewish state within its Biblical borders:
To the objection that this would mean perpetual war, he replied, "There will be a perpetual war. With or without Kahane."
In the early 1970s, Bob Dylan was accused of being a supporter of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Jewish Defense League. In a Time Magazine interview, Dylan said about Kahane, "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.
In Israel he established the Kach party. In 1980, Kahane stood unsuccessfully for election to the Knesset. Later, in 1980, Kahane served 6 months in prison following an detention order. According to Ehud Sprinzak, "the prevailing rumour was that a very provocative act of sabotage on the Temple Mount was planned by Kahane and a close associate of his, Baruch Green.
In 1984, Kahane was elected as an MK - Member of the Knesset (Israel's Parliament). The Central Elections Committee had banned him from being a candidate on the grounds that Kach was a racist party, but the Israeli High Court determined that the Committee was not authorized to ban Kahane's candidacy. The High Court suggested that the Knesset should pass a law that would authorize the exclusion of racist parties from future elections (the Anti-Racist Law of 1988).
Kahane refused to take the oath of office for the Knesset and insisted that a Biblical verse from Psalms be added to it, to indicate that when the national laws and Torah conflict, Torah (Biblical) law should have supremacy over the laws of the Knesset.
Kahane's legislative proposals focused on revoking the Israeli citizenship for non-Jews and banning Jewish-Gentile marriages and sexual relations, based on his interpretation of the Code of Jewish Law compiled by Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah. None of Israel's mainstream religious parties or prominent rabbis publicly supported Kach legislation.
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 (a reference from Jewish religious texts describing ancient Jews who assimilated into Greek culture after Judea's occupation by Alexander the Great). In 1987, Rabbi Kahane opened a yeshiva (HaRaayon HaYehudi) with funding from US supporters, for the teaching of "the Authentic Jewish Idea".
In 1986, Kahane voted in favor of an anti-racism law that exempted "acts for purposes of religious worship or intended to preserve Israel's unique character."
In 1985, the Knesset passed an amendment to Israel's Basic Law, barring "racist" candidates from election. The committee banned Kahane a second time, and he appealed to the Israeli High Court. This time the court found in favor of the committee, declaring Kahane to be unsuitable for election. Kahane asserted that polls showed the Kach Party was about to become the 3rd largest party in Israel and this was the true reason that the party was banned.
Following Kahane's murder, no charismatic leader emerged to replace him in the movement, and Kahane's ideology declined in popularity among Israelis. Two small Kahanist factions later emerged; one under the name of Kach and the other Kahane chai (Hebrew: כהנא חי, literally "Kahane lives [on]").
In 1994, following the murders in the Ibrahim Mosque/Cave of the Forefathers in Hebron by Kach supporter Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli government declared both parties to be terrorist organizations. The U.S. State Department also added Kach and Kahane Chai to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Providing funds or material support to these organizations is a crime in both Israel and the USA.
In late 2000, as terrorist attacks on Israel during the Al-Aqsa Intifada 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".
Since the 1994 banning of Kach and Kahane Chai no party has officially represented the 'Kahanist' position in politics. There have been, however, several parties which have had clear ideological, if not personal, links to Rabbi Kahane.
The first, Herut, which split off from the National Union list ran in 2002 with Michael Kleiner and Hebron resident Baruch Marzel taking the top two spots on the list. The joint effort narrowly missed the 1.5% minimum necessary for entry into the Knesset. The loss was due partly to heavy advertising by the larger National Union party that Herut would only be a waste of votes for the right wing bloc.
In the 2006 elections to group split into two factions, with Herut running again under Michael Kleiner and number of nominally well-known Kahanists (such as David HaIvri and Daniel Pinner of Kfar Tapuach). Herut earned an embarrassingly low number of votes, not even approaching the newly raised 2% minimum. The second faction, named The Jewish National Front and led by Baruch Marzel, fared better but still failed to pass the minimum threshold. The latter group gained the support of former Shas Knesset member and prominent rabbinic leader Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, son of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.
According to the statement, PLO activist Mahmoud Damra, also known as Abu Awad, was responsible for arming and training the three assassins, identified as Talal Ghassan, 37, a senior Force 17 member in Ramallah, Marzouk Abu Naim, 43, and Na'man Nofel.
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.
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