JERUSALEM (Nov. 7)
Rabbi Meir Kahane, slain leader of the Kach movement, was buried here Wednesday after a funeral service attended by tens of thousands and marred by ugly incidents of violence against Arabs and the media.
Previously contemplated fears were suddenly realized, as mourners became rioters, Arabs were attacked and at least one police officer was hospitalized.
Incomplete reports spoke of two Arabs injured, one possibly stabbed, and Arab cars stoned along the route of the funeral procession from the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood of Jerusalem to the cemetery in Givat Shaul.
Several television personnel were roughed up, as many within the funeral procession were determined to settle accounts with the media at any cost.
Kahane’s followers have been inflamed by the media’s sudden insatiable thirst for coverage since Kahane’s murder in New York on Monday night, following years in which the media often ostracized or denounced the Kach leader because of his anti-Arab politics.
“There is the hostile media.” a shout arose. “Let’s get them.”
Following the funeral, police cavalry charged a crowd of enraged mourners, who stoned the Israel Television building in Romema en route from Kahane’s yeshiva to the cemetery.
The mob grew larger as it chased a television crew all the way to their television headquarters 200 yards from where it had gathered.
TEHIYA MINISTER BARRED
Kahane’s followers also vented their feelings at members of the government, which had banned his Kach party from the Knesset.
Science Minister Yuval Ne’eman of the rightwing Tehiya party was prevented by funeral organizers from representing the government at the funeral. He had come to eulogize the slain Kahane, he told Israel Radio later.
Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu exhorted the vast crowd to leave revenge for God and not mortals.
The violent disturbances began only after the cortege was well on its way to the cemetery.
Groups of young mourners formed in packs, breaking away from the procession to seek out Arabs, chanting “Death to the Arabs” and “Death to the press.”
According to a police report, one Arab was attacked on the way to the cemetery. Another Arab was reportedly stabbed near the Machaneh Yehuda market.
Other police officers were injured and an Israel Radio vehicle came under a hail of stones.
At the yeshiva itself, where eulogies went on for 90 minutes, Kach leaders hushed outbursts and sought to preserve a modicum of decorum.
But soon the police became the target of the mob, as stones were thrown at them and at the building. One mounted policeman was struck in the head with a rock and rushed to a hospital.
Police on horseback charged into the crowd, scaring many away and arresting some of them. A large police force remained at hand at television headquarters to prevent further violence.
VIOLENCE REPORTED ELSEWHERE
Violence soon spread to other parts of the city, and tension continued into Wednesday night. By evening, police patrolled key trouble spots around the city, and Jerusalem Police Chief Arye Bibi vowed that any provocation or violence would be squelched immediately and firmly.
In a radio interview after the funeral, Ne’eman spoke of having been barred from the proceedings. “They are focusing their anger in the wrong direction,” he said.
Ne’eman said he had wanted to praise Kahane as a “proud Jew and brave fighter,” recalling his battles on behalf of the Jews of Brooklyn, then on behalf of Soviet Jewry, and later against the withdrawal from Sinai and from the Sinai settlement of Yamit.
But these sentiments were not widely shared in the Knesset on Wednesday, even from members of the right wing, during a debate on the murder.
Hanan Porat of the National Religious Party, a leader of Gush Emunim, said it was “very hard for me to relate to the late Rabbi Kahane as a kadosh” (martyr). Porat said he had been bitterly opposed to Kahane’s “way, his methods.”
Police Minister Ronni Milo expressed a widespread feeling when he said he feared the killing would “increase racist trends that exist” among both Arabs and Jews.