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Not only a racist rabbi, but a racist state

Late anti-Arab rabbi, Meir Kahane [Wikipedia]
Meir Kahane, American-Israeli rabbi, founder of Orthodox Jewish group Kahane Chai (Kach) [Wikipedia]

I have regularly written about the implications of the followers of murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane forming an official Israeli party called the Jewish Power party. This is a party that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently sought to include in the Jewish Home right-wing coalition consisting of Zionist religious movements.

Kahane is the founder of the Jewish Defence League as well as the fascist Kach gang, which has been outlawed by Israeli law. He served as a member of the 11th Knesset in 1988. His electoral list was then disqualified, and he was barred from running in the Israeli general elections for racism.

In this context, I cited an Israeli academic study published in 2002, concluding that the roots of Kahane's blatant racism are deep within Israeli society and that right-wing extremism is not an abnormality in the practices of Zionist politicians, regardless of their political affiliations and where they fall on the spectrum. In fact, before 1948, nationalist movements were active in Palestine, foremost among which was the revisionist movement led by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and parts of it were influenced by fascism in Europe. The occupation in 1967 re-paved the way for its reinforcement and brought it to the forefront, and we saw more of it, such as the dissolved Tehiya, Tzomet and Moledet political parties, and the Kach gang. The study was based on a public opinion poll showing support for Kach's barbaric ideas (including encouraging the displacement of Palestinians in 1948 and initiating an attack on them after acts of resistance) among voters for all Jewish parties, including those who portray themselves as being centre or left-wing parties, such as the Meretz Party.

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One cannot read into the significance of Netanyahu's embrace of the Jewish Power party solely in the context of Israel's relationship with the Palestinians in general and the Palestinians in the occupied territories particular. Instead, one must also consider what it means within Israel's internal balances of power and relationships, as when this party promotes the slogan "Kahane is alive" or "Kahane was right" it does not indicate only its nationalist fanaticism and racism towards the outside, but also its desire to establish a legitimate Jewish state that has no place for Arabs. There is also no place in this state for secular, humanitarian, or critical Jews. It must be a state for traditional Jews, similar to a voluntary ghetto based on national superiority with ancient foundations and contents derived from the theory of the Jewish race.

Ultra Orthodox Jewish people stage a protest against compulsory military service in Jerusalem on March 28, 2017 (Gil Cohen Magen - Anadolu Agency )

Ultra Orthodox Jewish people stage a protest against compulsory military service in Jerusalem on 218 March, 2017 (Gil Cohen Magen – Anadolu Agency )

Several years ago, many critical Israeli intellectuals began to quote Isaiah 1:9 "Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah,"about an inevitable disaster gradually approaching. Oscillate

Perhaps the harshest among them is the former Knesset Speaker and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Avraham Burg, who asserts that contemporary Judaism suffers from a structural problem that is a triple-headed disaster. It sways between a modern state that claims to establish a secular, rational and effective national organisation and legislative tools that have not been adapted to the new reality, and therefore ponder the affairs of the current state and address them with tools of diaspora and destruction, which are old and obsolete. On the third pole, we have Jewish masses who perhaps travel on Saturdays, watch erotic materials, and make noise everywhere, but are also very traditional in terms of religion.

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They kiss the mezuzah (a scroll inscribed with verses from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21) as well as the word "Shaddai" an acronym for Shomer Daltot Yisrael meaning "Guardian of Israel's doors". It is affixed to the right side of doorposts of Jewish homes), wear red strings to ward off the evil eye, hang pictures of saints on every wall, and believe that inserting prayer letters in the Wailing (Buraq) Wall will truly change his fate. They have a degree of faith or fear of God and do not want to have a completely secular vision. In Burg's opinion, if deeply-rooted and inherent hatred for Arabs is added to all of this, it will form the continuation of the fear and hate possessed by the Jews towards the non-Jews who lived amongst them for thousands of years. They will constantly look for biblical justifications and pretexts for this, thus creating a recipe for spiritual disaster that will strike the current "Jewish state".

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 27 February 2019

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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