Despite a 1988 ban on the extremists Kach party, the deceased Rabbi Meir Kahane continues to influence politics in Israel, and the American Jewish community. New York City, 2002.
(Photo: (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Although the Israeli government banned Meir Kahane’s political party over two decades ago for “racism,” his followers have now officially taken his message of an exclusively Jewish state between the river and sea to the army. Over the past two years, Yehuda Kroizer, head of the Yeshivat HaRaayon HaYehudi, or “Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea,” a religious school founded by Kahane, frequently lectured to an elite military unit with official approval from the army.
has been speaking before the Duvdevan soldiers twice and even three times a month since the beginning of the year. Last year he met with the combat soldiers even more frequently. Several dozen soldiers attended the lectures, which were optional and focused on various religious issues.
Yehuda Kroizer. (Photo: Trees4yesha.org)
Kroizer is a frequent speaker in the hard-right circuit. Often he shares a stage with notables such as the National Union’s Michael Ben-Ari, and the Land of Israel Movement’s Baruch Marzel, who is well known for oddly retaliating against Jerusalem’s gay pride parade by holding an anti-Arab demonstration inside of a Palestinian village. In 2007 the settler tried to have the parade canceled and enlisted Eli Yishai, now immigration minister, to file a petition. Yishai said pride was a “vulgar event that offends and violates the sanctity of Jerusalem.” However, the court did not agree and with a lost lawsuit, Marzel rose to the national spotlight by rallying settlers in 2008 to march in Umm el-Fahem, in Wadi Ara (Northern Israel).
In 2008 Koizer supported Marzel’s anti-Palestinian/anti-pride protest when Marzel was given a platform to recruit protesters during a Meir Kahane memorial organized by Koizer. At the event, the rabbi affirmed his intent to expand the rightist movement. “Like there is a Chabad house in every city, you should make your house a ‘house of the Jewish idea’ wherever you are… and learn, even with just one study partner.” At the end of the Kahane commemoration the entire room erupted in chants, reciting their mantra, “Arabs out!”
Jewish women “saved” from inter-marriage. (Photo: Charity of Light)
Aside from indoctrinating followers, Kroizer is a mogul of Kahane-inspired philanthropy. He runs Chasdei Meir Charity Fund, which provides food to low-income settlers, Trees for Yesha, which plants orchards in settlements, and the Charity of Light Fund, which advertises to “rescue…thousands of Jewish women” from “inter-marriage.” The charity’s website indicates the fund supports a shelter where 28 women reside through donations collected in a PO Box in Illinois.
The charity’s rhetoric paints a doomsday image of droves of Jewish women enslaved by their Palestinian husbands who ultimately turn to a life of “drugs and prostitution”:
All to often-Jewish women meet their Arab counterpart in the Universities, disco, bars, and beaches. Under a disguise name Achmad becomes Avraham, Mohammed-Moshe until a relation develops, and by then for most it is to late.
Many are taken to Arab villages were the women are abused and beaten becoming to frighten to ever leave,
most are never heard from again.
Girls from broken homes, some as young as 14 years old,
today tragically are left to roam the streets sleeping wherever, many turn to drugs and prostitution.
The problem left un-check is unfortunately growing.
These girls, left to themselves are without hope.
Shall we leave these Jewish women without hope?
Additionally the group also provides “amusement park equipment to distribute FREE of charge to the settlements on a rotating basis.”
When Kach, Rabbi Kahane’s political party was disqualified from Israeli elections in 1988, the ruling commission was making a stance against what they viewed as ”Nazi-like ideology.” Back then the New York Times alluded to a power play between Labor and Likud as a motivation to kick out the far-right party. And although the candor in Kahane’s racists diatribes certainly played a central role to end his political career, it is hard to ignore facts like pollsters indicating the extremist party had gained three seats, enough support to sway the outcome of the elections. “We understand that Likud and Labor are afraid that Kahane will take away a number of seats,” said Kach spokesman, Ikutiel Ben-Yaacov, to the Times.
Yet in the years since the party’s ban and the subsequent murder of Kahane in 1990 after a New York City lecture where the rabbi repeated his Jewish-only vision of Israel, the extremist positions of the group have remained. Now, years later top officials in the government are again calling to expel Palestinians. Avigdor Leiberman, Michael Ben-Ari, Aryeh Eldad all represent for all intensive purposes, the Kahanist view, with Ben-Ari as a former student of the deceased rabbi.
And similar to the 1980s, these government coalitions are supported by settler voting blocs, which now have the lobbying might to overturn court rulings. This was made clear earlier this year with Migron, an illegal outpost earmarked for demolition, was protected by a right-wing bloc inside of Knesset. Ben-Ari and Eldad, among others, facilitated the deal between the settlers and the government, overriding the high court and the rights of the Palestinian landowners.
Focusing narrowly on the current right-wing political parties without attention to their ideological and spiritual masters sidesteps the greater point; today’s context is a period of normalized extremists views. That is, despite banning Kach and the language of peace that accompanied two-decades of negotiations, there never was a sea change in Israeli politics.