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B'siyata d'shmaya - With the help of Heaven



6 November 2003

By S. Herbert B. Sunshine*

Rabbi Meir Kahane Ben Yechezkel, was the antithesis of the assimilated Jew. Descended from a dynasty of Rabbis on both his father’s and his mother’s side, he himself is the father of Rabbis. He lived the way he believed and his beliefs are in his writings. His role model was the ancient poet-warrior, David, King of Israel. His Yeshivah of the Jewish Idea extolled Jewish pride, Jewish heritage and authentic Torah learning.

His essays of twenty and thirty years ago were timely then and timeless now because of their vision and truthfulness.

He officiated at my wedding in 1987 and we were close personally until his murder in 1990. Rabbi Kahane was a constant inspiration. He appointed me to write his press releases during the last eighteen months of his life. I traveled with him during his campaign for Knesset in1988. I was at the High Court on the day he was banned from running for the Knesset and I demonstrated in favor of the Referendum, intended to restore his right to run. At the end, I followed his body from his Yeshiva to his grave in Har HaMenuchot in Jerusalem.

He was depicted by the media disrespectfully. But he was respected, even loved, by the thousands of Jews whose lives he touched.

I lived for a time in a Merkaz Klita (Absorption Center) together with many other immigrants, the majority of whom were from the former Soviet Union. There, during the winter of 1988, I took ill. Rabbi Kahane, more ill than I, came to visit. A Russian neighbor, seeing Rabbi Kahane with me,
invited me to his tiny, sparsely furnished apartment. He proudly pointed out the two pictures hanging on his wall. One was of his beautiful daughter. The other photograph was that of Rabbi Meir Kahane to whom he gave credit for his liberation from the Soviet Union.

The test of a true prophet is whether his predictions for good come true. In that sense, and because no man is a prophet in his own time, Rabbi Kahane’s vision was perceptive, not prophetic. However, like the Prophet Yeshayahu, the Rabbi did not speak of “sweet things.” Not unlike some of the prophets of old, he was vilified, jailed, banned and murdered The Jewish establishments of both Israel and the United States targeted their mortal enemy, Rabbi Meir Kahane, the religious, Zionistic Jew.

I want to give at least one example of the arbitrary hostility of the Israeli Establishment against any threat to its political power. Israel has retained a British Mandate Law prohibiting the “causing of dissatisfaction” to a public official. It was used by both the British and Israeli governments against Jews. It was a major weapon in the government's war against Rabbi Kahane. Arrested dozens of times for political reasons, on one occasion he was jailed for "causing dissatisfaction” to then Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir.

An Arab murderer had grabbed the steering wheel of Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Bus 405, pulling it into a steep ravine and killing and injuring many riders, Rabbi Kahane immediately called for the resignation of the Prime Minister for failing to protect the lives of Jews. This statement "disatisfied" the government. This disgraceful British Mandate law further states that the “truth” of the "guilty" expression shall not constitute a “defense” to the charge.

The Rabbi’s defense lawyer moved to dismiss on the usually valid ground that the indictment was unsigned. The judge denied the motion, stating that she wanted to hear the “truth” of the charges, despite the irrelevance of truth under the law of Israel. The charge, which could have resulted in five years imprisonment, was pending at the time of the Rabbi’s murder.

Consistent with his religious beliefs that every Jew has an obligation to defend the State, the Rabbi served in the Israeli Army. The Arabs were at that time rioting in the city of Kalkilya and the IDF was assigned to intervene. Who better to send than the Rabbi? Then, as now, Israel endured an Arab revolt and pursued a futile policy of “purity of arms.” The unit commander gave the Rabbi his orders. “You must first give warning in Hebrew and in Arabic before shooting; you must fire in the air before attacking.” The Rabbi declined this invitation to commit suicide and was told, “If the Arabs don’t kill you, then you will face court martial for disobedience.”

Together with one frightened rookie assigned to him, Rabbi Kahane approached the rioters. He was instantly identified. “Kahane, Kahane,” screamed the Arabs as they dispersed. No shots were fired. No blood was shed. Peace was restored.

He was later to say, “If I am ever Prime Minister, there will be no need to transfer Arabs. When they hear of Kahane’s election, they will run out on their own.”

In 1984, the Central Elections Committee, described by the High Court, as a body “which is almost entirely composed of members with defined political outlooks...,” disqualified Rabbi Kahane’s Kach Party. The ruling was reluctantly reversed. The High Court required enabling legislation which set forth “yardsticks, clear limitations and definitions." For a list to be banned, the Court asked for legislation and standards. To survive court review, the law must define the “measure of the violation and the reasonableness of the danger (to democratic principles).” [Neiman v. the Chairman of the Central Elections Committee E.A 2,3/84]

In 1985 the Knesset heeded the Court’s message and passed legislation to ban a competing party. They passed a law lacking standards and definitions in conflict with the Court's decision. They passed a law tailor-made to ban Rabbi Kahane and his Party.

“7A. A list of candidates shall not participate in elections to Knesset if there is in its goals or acts... any of the following:

(1) The negation of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish people.
(2) The negation of the democratic nature of the State.
(3) Incitement to racism.”

In the original bill “racism” was undefined. The expectation of the bill’s sponsors was for the High Court to equate Kahanism with "racism". The Rabbi wrote in a letter from the Knesset:

“472 days passed and still no bill … I did want a bill with a good definition, a thing that only a dreamer and people of immense faith could ever imagine the Knesset coming up with … And, of course, the miracle happened, in the way G-d always makes it happen. My worst enemy saved me. Knesset Speaker Hillel - a man who goes to sleep every night with me in his head, saw that the Knesset session was coming to a close … so in his obsession he announced that come what may, he was tabling it for the next to the last day of the session. Faced with the ultimatum by Hillel … and the anger of the religious parties, the Law Committee, which is controlled by Likud, CHANGED [sic] the bill and added a definition which took out “religion” as a cause of incitement to racism and specifically declared that statements based on Judaism would not be racist … In the end of this Alice-in Wonderland scene, all the leftists who originated the bill voted against it and I voted … for it. G-d is great.”

Rabbi Kahane sought re-election to the Knesset in 1988. In August he told an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds of campaign workers:

“The polls show us getting between 10 and 13 seats. We will then be the third largest party in Israel.” “There will be no government without the Kach Party or there will be no government.” “We will demand conditions, and these conditions are non-negotiable.” “Every Jew sitting in an Israeli prison for ideological reasons will be freed immediately. He will not be given a pardon because pardons are only for criminals. (These Jews) will be welcomed in the Knesset by the Prime Minister himself.” “There will be an automatic death penalty for Arab terrorists.” “The Temple Mount will be given to the Chief Rabbi of Israel and we will build a synagogue there.” “The Arab citizens of Israel will do National Service on the roads.” “There will be an end to the insanity of subsidizing Arab babies.” “The law of ‘Who is a Jew’ will be amended in conformity with Halachah.” “There will be an anti-missionary law. The Mormon Temple will become the largest synagogue in the country.” “We will create a Jewish State, not a State of Hebrew-speaking Gentiles. No longer will Jews be afraid in their own Land.”

“The dream of 2000 years has become a nightmare.”

Hearing these words, I thought, “Rabbi, catch the ball before you run with it.” Friends have later told me, “If he (Rabbi Kahane) had only softened his words. If he had only been more polite, he might not have been banned from running." The Rabbi, in reply to this, said, “If I were to speak only ‘nice things’ then I am Shimon Peres, not Meir Kahane.”

Retribution for these conditions was swift. On October 5, 1988, the Central Elections Committee for the 12th Knesset, decided that the Kach list is prohibited from participating in the elections under paragraph 7A, for “inciting to racism.”

To prove that the “goals and acts” of the Rabbi and his party were within the confines of Torah Law, (to be exempt from racism under the Knesset law), the Rabbi's attorney sought expert testimony from leading Rabbis. All of the Rabbis approached confirmed that the principles of Rabbi Kahane and his Kach Party were within Halachah; however, each requested support from two others, before agreeing to testify. Thus, the High Court did not have the guidance of religious experts on such issues as Jewish sovereignty in Israel, intermarriage, transfer of enemy aliens, or the incompatibility of Torah Judaism with Grecian-derived democracy.

In an opinion that is historic and which should be required study in all Israeli schools, particularly in its law schools, The High Court of Israel, speaking through its Kippah-wearing Judge, Menachem Eilon, found the Halachah (Torah Law) as expressed by Rabbi Kahane to be “racist.” (October,

The learned Judge defined the word "ger" as “resident stranger” (a neighbor to whom the Jew owes "kindness") rather than with its true meaning, "ger toshav," (a non-Jew who has accepted the Seven Noachide Laws) and is thus permitted to live among Jews in the Land of Israel.

Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, which is the consensus authority on Torah Law, states:

“When, however, Israel is in power over them [the gentiles], it is forbidden for us to allow an idolater among us… [Exodus 23:33] states, ‘They shall not dwell in your land’ - i.e., even temporarily… A person who accepts these seven mitzvoth is a "ger toshav." A "ger toshav" may be accepted only in the era when the [laws of the] Jubilee Year are observed. In an era when the [laws of the] Jubilee Year are not observed, however, we may accept only full converts [to Judaism].” (Rambam, Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 10:6)

Rabbi Kahane explained this law:

“…The Ishmaelites who view the Jewish People as thieves are thirsty for Jewish blood and will never abandon their ambition of destroying our nation and its land. For that reason, the law of the seven nations applies to them, and whoever hesitates in this, will, through his foolish mercy, bring cruelty upon merciful sons of merciful fathers.” (Or Hara’ayon, The Jewish Idea, vol. II, p. 631, Rabbi Meir Kahane)

The State of Israel is the “State of the Jewish People” but Western “democracy" would permit an elected Arab majority to rule Israel. About this, the opinion says:

“…the existence of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish People does not negate its democratic nature, just as the Frenchness of France does not negate its democratic nature.”

If the Kach Party could run for office because their “racist” programs were (by statute) exempt as being based on religion, and if such statements “negate[ed] the democratic nature of the State", then is there not a fundamental incompatibility between Torah Judaism and Western Democracy? The High Court’s resolution of this dilemma was to deny the religious content of the Kach program and further to sanctify the “Israelness” of Israel over its Jewish nature.

There is a photo of Rabbi Kahane as he emerged from the Court House being carried on the shoulders of his supporters. They sang and they danced. “Did you win or lose, Rabbi?”, I asked. "Gam zu l’tova”, he replied, “Everything from G-d is for the good.”

During the same session the High Court held that the Arab lists, which unashamedly advocated the destruction of the State of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants, were not in violation of Section 7A. Their platforms were declared to be neither undemocratic, inciteful nor racist, and therefore the Arabs of Israel were eligible to serve as Knesset members with the power even to determine “Who is a Jew.”

A body blow, not yet fatal, had been dealt to the Kach Party. Other assaults were designed to prevent the resurgence of this right-wing Party.

Fearing the loss of seats to Kach, Likud sponsored a bill requiring that any candidate for Knesset must, before running, surrender any non-Israeli citizenship. Such a bill (directed against a single individual) is unconstitutional in the United States. Had Golda Meir been subject to this legislation, she could have lost her U.S. citizenship. The taking of Rabbi Kahane's U.S. citizenship was intended to cripple his ability to travel to raise funds.

In the letter which accompanied the surrender of his passport to the U.S. State Department, the Rabbi (a citizen of the U.S. by birth) stated that he intended the renouncement of American citizenship to be conditional upon his re-election to Knesset.

In 1990 Rabbi Kahane entered the United States with permission to contest this issue in Federal Court. The case become moot upon his death.

The last blow to the Kach Party was administered by a Knesset seeking to pacify the United States State Department, which demanded “even-handedness” in Israel’s war against the Arab Revolution. There being no Jewish terrorists, Kach would do, and so the Party, having been incessantly demonized by the government-controlled media, was declared to be illegal.

In true autocratic style, this was done without notice or hearing or right of appeal. Based upon the Israeli decision, the United States, without independent proof, placed Kach on its list of terrorist organizations, side-by-side with Hamas and Al Qaida.

The hand was the hand of Esau, but the mind was the mind of Jacob. The hand which fired a bullet into the head of Rabbi Meir Kahane, in mid-Manhattan on the night of November 5, 1990, was that of the Egyptian terrorist, El Sayid Nossair.

Esau hates Yaakov, in every generation, and Yaakov, in the form of the Government of Israel, hated and feared Rabbi Meir Kahane.

The Egyptian was acquitted of Rabbi Kahane’s murder. He was found guilty only of illegally possessing a weapon. A search of the murderer’s apartment uncovered 47 boxes of documents in Arabic which proved that “he (Nossair) was at the heart of a worldwide terrorist network.” (Jerusalem Post 11/25/94)

The Israel government’s indifference to the assassination of this Member of Knesset was mirrored by the American Jewish Establishment. Neither demanded an objective, thorough investigation, and so the motivation, financing and larger significance of the murder remains hidden to this day.

Baruch Marzel, a disciple of the Rabbi and later to be a Knesset candidate, requested that the F.B.I. “look into the backers of Nossair…” On December 7, 1990 he wrote:

“The killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane is a terrorist act held in the United States because America has little experience with terrorism and is not prepared… If the F.B.I. will treat this case as an act of international terror, then the support group behind Nossair, will be unearthed.”

In February of 1993, a bomb was set off in the parking level of the World Trade Center. Six people were killed and more than 1000 injured. Four terrorists, linked to Nossair, were convicted of this attack in March, 1994.

On October 1, 1995, Nossair and the blind Muslim Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, and ten others, were convicted in U.S. Federal Court of conspiracy to blow up the UN, an FBI building, and three bridges and tunnels.

The funeral of Rabbi Meir Kahane was announced on hundreds of huge posters pasted on boards throughout Israel. On Thursday, November 8, 1990 at 3:00P.M., the procession commenced from the Rabbi's Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea in the Shmuel HaNavi neighborhood of Jerusalem.

“He sacrificed his life for the sake of the Nation of Israel, its Torah and its Land,” declared the posters. Those present exceeded 100,000, making it the second largest funeral in Israel’s history. Mourners flooded the streets for blocks around the Yeshiva. Young and old, religious and secular, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, native Israelis and immigrants, men, women and children, jointly mourned their great loss. Rabbi Meir Kahane, a leader of the generation, had united Jews in his death as he had attempted to lead them during his life.

The government of Israel never ceased its de-legitimization of Rabbi Kahane and the harassment of his followers - despite the murder of more than 1000 Jews, the wounding and maiming of thousands more, and the more than 5000 murderous attacks during the years folowing the failure of Oslo.

On July 7, 2002, the Attorney General of Israel indicted a young Kahane supporter: "The defendant is accused of having printed … the picture of Rabbi Kahane on the front of a number of shirts, and on the back thereof he printed the slogan, ‘no arabs, no terror attacks.’” The charge, still pending, is “incitement to racism.”

On most Fridays, an Arab cleric will preach at the Al Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount that Jews are “infidels”, “occupiers” of “Arab” land and deserving of expulsion, if not death. No Arab preachers have been indicted for “incitement” or “racism” arising out of their expounding their (Muslim) religion.

One is tempted to speculate on the history of the Jewish people in Israel had Rabbi Kahane’s life been spared.

Had Israel been led by a strong, G-d-fearing Jew, would Israel have adopted the Oslo Surrender Plan, creating a PLO Army with 50,000 Israel-supplied machine guns? Would the Holy Places of Shchem (the Arab Nablus), the Cave of the Patriarchs, the site of the First and Second
Temples, have become Mosques, dangerous if not impossible for Jewishworship? Would there have been brazen desecration of the name of the G-d of Israel when priceless artifacts of Jewish history were scooped up by Arab bulldozers and dumped in garbage heaps under the eyes of the Israeli Department of Antiquities?

Would there have been interminable Arab revolution, relentlessly decimating Jews, the Israeli economy and the standing of the Jewish people throughout the world? Would an Israeli government led by a less fearful Jew be guided by a policy that there is no “military solution” to the Intifada?

Would there be crammed down the throats of a sovereign people a series of “Land for Peace Plans,” (Madrid, Oslo, Wye, Taba, Camp David, Tennet, Mitchell, The Road Map, and recently, Geneva) whereby the People of Peace with little land give land to People of Terror who have millions of square miles of land, trading Holy Land for dubious peace?

“The Jewish people should be a light unto the world, not a memorial candle,” Rabbi Kahane often said.

“Anti-Semitism is not created by Jews who stand proud and tall in defense of their people.” (Rabbi Meir Kahane, December 11, l970.)


*Mr. Sunshine is a retired U.S. Attorney-at-Law who resides in Jerusalem. He conducted a private practice of law for 35 years and was an adjunct Professor of Law in upstate New York. In Israel, Mr. Sunshine served as President of the Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea and was, until its banning, a member of the Inner Council of the Kach Party. He was the English-speaking spokesperson for Rabbi Meir Kahane from 1988 to 1990.