Rabbi Meir Kahane was born in Brooklyn, NY, on August 1, 1932. His father, Rabbi Charles Kahane, was involved in the Revisionist Zionist movement, and was a close friend of Zev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky. Meir was active in Betar, the militant revisionist youth movement.This letter was written in 1980.
Kahane received a degree in International Law from New York University, and ordination from the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn. He edited the Jewish Press, and served as a pulpit rabbi and teacher in New York until the mid-1960s. He also partnered with the government in rallying Jewish support for the Vietnam War.
His life's work, however, started in 1968, when he founded the Jewish Defense League (JDL). Kahane saw many of the poor and elderly Jews living in the inner-city being targeted by criminals; as a result, he set out to change the image of the Jew from "weak and vulnerable" to one of a "mighty fighter, who strikes back fiercely against tyrants." The JDL's controversial methods, which frequently included the threat of, or actual violence, greatly exacerbated the Black-Jewish tension already present in New York City. The JDL also focused on the plight of Soviet Jewry, and coined the phrases "Never again," and "every Jew a .22" to emphasize that Jews would no longer passively ignore the plight of their foreign brethren.
While some saw Kahane's goals as laudable, his actions were often criminal. He spent time in jail after being convicted of conspiring to make bombs.
Kahane and his family moved to Israel in 1971, where he founded the militantly anti-Arab Kach party. The party's platform called for the annexation of all conquered territories and the forcible removal of all Palestinians. Under the auspices of Kach, Kahane continued to lobby for his beliefs in violent ways, and was jailed on several occasions. He was the first Jew in Israel to ever be accused of sedition.
Kahane ran for Knesset and lost in 1976 and 1980, and was finally elected in 1984. His movement continued to grow until, prior to the 1988 Knesset elections, the Kach party was banned from running by a Labor-Likud coalition. The ban was based on an amendment added to Israel's Basic Law that disqualified any candidate whose platform included "incitement to racism." Two years later, Kahane was assassinated in New York City by an Egyptian militant, who was acquitted of the crime on a technicality, but later convicted in relation to the World Trade Center bombing.
During his life, Kahane attempted to spread his message through a variety of forums. He wrote numerous books espousing his opinions; his most famous work, They Must Go, is alternately called a "magnum opus" by Kahane's followers, and compared to Mein Kampf by his detractors. He also founded a seminary in Jerusalem, called the "Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea." The school, which still exists today, attempts to combine a traditional Jewish education with right-wing political activism.
It appears that you are hard to please. I understand that you are upset over us here in Israel. Indeed, it appears that you are quite upset, even angry and outraged. Indeed, every few years you seem to become upset over us. Today, it is the brutal repression of the Palestinians; yesterday, it was Lebanon; before that it was the bombing of the nuclear reactor in Baghdad and the Yom Kippur War campaign. It appears that Jews who triumph, and who therefore, live, upset you most extraordinarily.
Of course, dear world, long before there was an Israel, we the Jewish people upset you. We upset a German people, who elected a Hitler and we upset an Austrian people, who cheered his entry into Vienna and we upset a whole slew of Slavic nations - Poles, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Russians, Hungarians, Romanians. (Emphasis mine)
And we go back a long, long way in history of world upset. We upset the Cossacks of Chmielnicki, who massacred tens of thousands of us in 1648-49; we upset the Crusaders, who on their way to liberate the Holy Land, were so upset at Jews that they slaughtered untold numbers of us. We upset, for centuries, a Roman Catholic Church that did its best to define our relationship through Inquisitions. And we upset the arch-enemy of the church, Martin Luther, who in his call to burn the synagogues and the Jews within them, showed an admirable Christian ecumenical spirit.
It is because we became so upset over upsetting you, dear world, that we decided to leave you - in a manner of speaking - and establish a Jewish State. The reasoning was that living in close contact with you, as resident-strangers in the various countries that comprise you, we upset you, irritate you, and disturb you. What better notion, then, than to leave you and thus love you - and have you love us? And so we decided to come home, to the same homeland from which we were driven out 1,900 years earlier by a Roman world that, apparently, we also upset. (Emphasis mine)
Alas, dear world, it appears that you are hard to please. Having left you and your Pogroms and Inquisitions and Crusades and Holocausts, having taken our leave of the general world to live alone in our own little state, we continue to upset you.
You are upset that we repress the Palestinians. You are deeply angered over the fact that we do not give up the lands of 1967, which are clearly the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Moscow is upset and Washington is upset. The Arabs are upset and the gentle Egyptian moderates are upset. (Emphasis mine)
Well, dear world, consider the reaction of a normal Jew from Israel. In 1920, 1921 and 1929, there were no territories of 1967 to impede peace between Jews and Arabs. Indeed, there was no Jewish State to upset anybody. Nevertheless, the same oppressed and repressed Palestinians slaughtered hundreds of Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Safed and Hebron. Indeed, 67 Jews were slaughtered one day in Hebron in 1929.
Dear world, why did the Arabs - the Palestinians - massacre 67 Jews in one day in 1929? Could it have been their anger over Israeli aggression in 1967? And why were 510 Jewish men, women and children slaughtered in Arab riots in 1936-39? Was it because of Arab upset over 1967? And when you, World, proposed a U.N. Partition Plan in 1947 that would have created a Palestinian State alongside a tiny Israel and the Arabs cried and went to war and killed 6,000 Jews - was that upset stomach caused by the aggression of 1967? And, by the way, dear world, why did we not hear your cry of upset then? (Emphasis mine)
The Palestinians who today kill Jews with explosives and firebombs and stones are part of the same people who - when they had all the territories they now demand be given them for their state - attempted to drive the Jewish State into the sea. The same twisted faces, the same hate, the same cry of "idbah-al-yahud" - "Slaughter the Jews!" that we hear and see today, were seen and heard then. The same people, the same dream - destroy Israel. (Emphasis mine)
What they failed to do yesterday, they dream of today - but we should not "repress" them. Dear world, you stood by the Holocaust and you stood by in 1948 as seven states launched a war that the Arab League proudly compared to the Mongol massacres. You stood by in 1967 as Nasser, wildly cheered by wild mobs in every Arab capital in the world, vowed to drive the Jews into the sea. And you would stand by tomorrow if Israel were facing extinction. (Emphasis mine)
And since we know that the Arabs-Palestinians daily dream of that extinction, we will do everything possible to remain alive in our own land. If that bothers you, dear world, well - think of how many times in the past you bothered us.
In any event, dear world, if you are bothered by us, here is one Jew in Israel who could not care less.
And here is another one!
To the Helen Thomas' and Rosie O'Donalds of the world. You don't like Israel and Jews too damn bad. Either live with it, or find another planet to live on. I prefer you do the second, since it would be more to your liking (And ours too, since we are forced to look at your sorry ass ugly faces! [Please start wearing a burka!])
The Jews of Israel are not going any where! We are the indigenous people of the land. Get used to that fact proven by history, archaeology, and genetics.
We are one people living in our ancestral home!
Now and forever!