JERUSALEM (Aug. 5)
Thousands of people, mostly Arabs but also Jews, gathered yesterday in the Arab village of Umm Al Fahem near Hadera to protest recent statements by newly elected Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane, leader of the Kach Party, and to demand that the Knesset enact anti-racist legislation. It was reportedly the largest joint Arab and Jewish rally to take place in Israel. The rally was held in Umm Al Fahem, the largest Arab town in the country, with a population of some 20,000, because Kahane stated, immediately after his election, that he would open an “emigration office” in the town to “encourage” Arabs to leave Israel, including by forcible means if necessary.
DOZENS OF RELIGIOUS JEWS AT THE RALLY
The rally was attended by members of various political parties and included dozens of religious Jews, mostly of the Conservative movement, who spent the Sabbath in the Arab village holding services and being hosted by the villagers. Among the honorary guests were 10 Knesset members representing the Labor Alignment, the Citizens Rights Movement, Shinui, Progressive List for Peace, and the Communist (Hadash) Party. Many of the Jewish participants were members of nearby kibbutzim.
Protesters carried signs in Arabic, English and Hebrew denouncing Kahane’s views as fascist and racist and chanted in Arabic, “Kahane, get out, get out.” One sign in Hebrew stated, “There is no place for Nazism in Israel.” A sign in English said, “Kahane belongs in the Ramat Gan zoo.”
Speakers at the rally, which was held in the local soccer field, and people milling around, indicated that they were more concerned about the trend among Israel’s Jews that enabled Kahane to win a seat in the Knesset than about Kahane the person.
Meanwhile, Kahane yesterday visited the Jewish settlement of Efrat south of Bethlehem. He came there with a busload of supporters, hoping to lecture to the villagers, but he was met at the entrance to the village by 100 residents who protested his visit. It was the first anti-Kahane demonstration in one of the settlements.