ATLANTA (Sep. 2)
Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Kach Party member of Knesset, led six local Kach supporters here Tuesday in a demonstration in front of the Israel Consulate for the Southeast, calling new Consul General Muhamed Massarwa “anti-Zionist.”
Massarwa, who arrived here August 24, is the first Moslem to serve as an Israeli diplomat abroad. He was welcomed by Atlanta Jewish leaders, who praised the appointment as representative of Israel’s democratic ideals.
Kahane, with a large contingent of local journalists in tow, got as far as the intercom system outside the Consulate’s locked security door. He spoke in Hebrew though the intercom for several minutes, but was refused entry.
At a press conference earlier that morning, Kahane maintained that Massarwa’s appointment though representative of Western democracy is inconsistent with Zionism when carried through to its “logical end.”
“I want to know if Massarwa can fulfill his major role of ‘aliyah’ — getting Jews to emigrate to Israel,” Kahane said, “Does he really want to see more Jews in Israel? Of course not. He is an anti-Zionist, then he is a traitor to his own people because Zionism calls for a Jewish state.”
Israel suffers from schizophrenia, according to Kahane. “It doesn’t know if it’s a Western democracy or a Jewish state,” he said. “It can’t be both. And Massarwa’s appointment raises this issue.”
KAHANE’S APPEARANCE CONDEMNED
Local Jewish leaders called a press conference later in the day to condemn Kahane’s appearance and reaffirm their support for Massarwa.
A joint statement issued by 11 Jewish organizations said: “Kahane is not representative of Israelis. He is not representative of American Jewry. His words and actions are alien to Judaism; they are an anathema to traditional Torah teachings. We reject this affront to our people, to our tradition and beliefs, and to our abiding commitment to brotherhood and peace.”
Speaking for the Jewish community were: Gerald Cohen, immediate past president of the Atlanta Jewish Federation; Rabbi Arnold Goodman, president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association; Stephen Selig, president of the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee; and Dr. James Kaufman, chairman of the Southeastern office of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
After his rebuff by the consulate, Kahane told reporters: “I knew quite well Massarwa would not meet with me … What you’ve seen here is a refusal to face up to the essential question: is Israel a Jewish state or a Western democracy? But we (the local Kach Party) will not allow this man to appear in public without being constantly questioned about this … We won’t let this man alone.”
He said the purpose of his being here was to garner media coverage of the questions he raised. “I don’t think this has been a waste of time, far from it,” Kahane said.