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Jewish Groups Denounce Kahane

August 16, 1985
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Twelve major national Jewish organizations today joined in vehemently denouncing Rabbi Meir Kahane, the leader of the Kach Party in Israel, calling his policies “racism,” “demagoguery,” and “a perversion of Jewish religious, ethical, and traditional values and practices.”

The joint statement was issued hours before Kahane was scheduled to arrive here from Israel for a month-long visit to the United States. The Kach Party advocates ousting all Arabs from Israel and has used violent tactics to express its views.

The statement, which strongly decries the tactics, views and goals of Kahane, declares that he “is not representative of the Israelis, is not representative of American Jewry, (and) more fundamentally, his words and actions are alien to Judaism.” The national organizations that signed the statement were the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., National Council of Jewish Women, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, United Synagogue of America, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, and Women’s American ORT.

Noting that the signers “represent the overwhelming majority of America’s organizationally affiliated Jews,” the statement, alluding to recent press reports that “Kahaneism” was becoming an “epidemic” in Israel, says:

“We do not dismiss the findings of polls that, under unrelenting economic, military, political, and terrorist pressure, ‘Kahaneism’ has found a few more sympathetic listeners …. But to confuse this still isolated virus with an epidemic threatening Israel’s vibrant democracy is to misconstrue the phenomenon and exaggerate its threat far beyond its troubling but limited dimensions.”

“(Kahane) and what he stands for,” the statement continues, “have been emphatically rejected by Israel’s government leaders and its parliament. The record is clear and should be known.” On that record, the statement says, are these facts:

*Israel’s Declaration of Independence proclaims equal rights to all “irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

*Israel’s President, Chaim Herzog, when meeting with the political leaders whose parties won Knesset seats, “pointedly refused to meet with Kahane, whose ideology he considered repugnant to (Israel’s) democratic principles ….”

*On July 31st the Knesset unanimously passed a bill banning from parliamentary elections any party that “incites people to racism or negates Israel’s democratic character ….”

*Israelis “in government and in the private sector are intensifying their ongoing efforts to promote better relations between Arabs and Jews, as have many of the organizations” signing the joint statement.

* “Ironically, it was Israel’s tradition of democracy that enabled Kahane to run for his current seat in the Knesset, since he was ruled off the ballot and subsequently restored by a judgment of Israel’s Supreme Court. In several previous attempts to attain office in Israel, he had failed. Finally gaining a seat, Kahane received only 26,000 votes, barely one Israeli vote in a hundred ….”

The statement concludes: “We reject (Kahane’s words and actions) and what they stand for; we reject this affront to our history, to our tradition and beliefs, and to our abiding commitment to peace and brotherhood.”

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