WASHINGTON (Sep. 12)
Representatives of Jewish organizations and assorted groups of Palestinians, Palestinian sympathizers, lesbians and anti-nuclear activists converged outside the National Press Club building today in separately-sponsored demonstrations against Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was preparing to address journalists at a press luncheon inside the meeting.
Carrying placards that read, “Kahane Does Not Speak for Me” and “Zionism: Yes, Kahane: No, ” some 25 demonstrators from the Washington Board of Rabbis, which represents mostly Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist rabbis in the metropolitan area, appeared at the protest with a prepared statement calling Kahane’s ideas “antithetical to the essence of Judaism.”
“As religious leaders of the Jewish community, we reject Rabbi Kahane as a spokesman for our community and affirm that his message is the very antithesis of Zionism and Judaism,” said the statement, read by Rabbis Stuart Weinblatt and Gary Fink. It added that “as Jews, we reject the rhetoric of racism, whether it comes from the extremist Kahane, Prime Minister Botha (of South Africa) or the (Muslim leader) Rev. Louis Farrakhan.”
The rabbis were supported in their protest by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, which distributed its own statement denouncing Kahane.
ATTITUDE OF NON-JEWISH GROUPS
The statement by the rabbis, which culminated in a blowing of the shofar as a symbol of the new Jewish year and of “eternal Jewish values of equality and justice,” was somewhat overshadowed by the handful of demonstrators from lesbian, anti-nuclear and other groups, who were shouting anti-Kahane slogans nearby, as some 30 members of pro-Palestinian groups prepared to begin their own demonstration which followed that of the rabbis.
Each carrying his own sign denouncing Kahane, or racism in South Africa and Israel, the pro-Palestinian demonstrators were more organized and vocal than the rabbis, but most of the journalists present appeared to have left to hear Kahane by the time their protests got off the ground.
One of the Palestinian demonstrators said he was pleased that Jewish groups were protesting against Kahane, as well. But he added that some of the pro-Zionist placards avoided what he said was the core of the problem. “We believe that Kahane is the true expression of Zionism,” the demonstrator told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Correspondent Hamdi Faud, of Egypt’s leading semi-official daily Al-Ahram, who was covering the protests and Kahane’s address, told the JTA he saw nothing positive in the rabbis’ protests or in support of the rabbis’ protest.
Fuad said “it’s a very weak reaction to a criminal act,” Asked if he intended to cover the protest in his story on Kahane, Fuad shrugged and said “maybe a line or two.”