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Rabbi Meir David Kahane – מאיר דוד כהנא

Ideology

His overall views have been called Kahanism. Kahane believed that the Palestinians sought the genocide of the Israeli Jews, and therefore he proposed the population transfer and even forcible deportation of all Arabs from Israel including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In his view this was the only acceptable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Kahane also believed that Israel should become a theocracy governed purely by Jewish law known as the Halakha. He hoped that the Israeli government would pass laws, including a ban on marriages between Jews and non-Jews, in accordance with the traditions of Orthodox Judaism. Critics have compared this measure to Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws.

Early life

Kahane was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1932. He came from a family that adhered to Orthodox Judaism. Kahane was an ordained rabbi, but he did not enjoy the thought of being a communal or pulpit rabbi. He was fully conversant with the Talmud and Tanakh. He subsequently earned a law degree from New York University.

He became an admirer of Zeev Jabotinsky and Revisionist Zionism as a teenager and joined its youth wing Betar. He personally led protests against Ernest Bevin the British Foreign Secretary who was visiting New York in the 1940s. Kahane organized and launched public demonstrations in the US against the Soviet Union’s policy of suppressing Zionism and curbing Jewish immigration to Israel by its Jews. He was a central activist in the “Free Soviet (Russian) Jewry” movement.

During the 1960s, Kahane joined the FBI and acted against anti-Vietnam war movements, undercover. He presented himself as Michael King, a Presbyterian journalist from South Africa. Kahane founded the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in 1968 in response to threats of violence against Jews by the Black Panthers and members of the Black Power movement of the 1960s.

Kahane was also in contact with the Joe Colombo, head of the Colombo mafia family and stood by him on 1971 when Colombo was shot dead by the Gallo family. Kahane confirmed his connections on an interview he gave to Playboy magazine in 1972.

Kahane was a book writer, a journalist writing for the largest Anglo-Jewish weekly, Brooklyn’s The Jewish Press and for a while one of its editors. He appeared often on American radio and television.