Mainstreaming the Extreme: How Meir Kahane’s Vision of Jewish Supremacy Conquered Israeli Politics
Thursday, March 18th
featuring Amjad Iraqi (+972 Magazine), Professor Rabbi Shaul Magid (Dartmouth College and author of the forthcoming Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical), Natasha Roth-Rowland (University of Virginia) in conversation with Lara Friedman (FMEP).
For the resources shared during the webinar, please scroll down.
When Israeli citizens go to the polls on March 23rd, one thing they will be voting on is whether to bring followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane into the Knesset as part of a new party, “Religious Zionism.” The sudden political ascent of the Religious Zionism party was orchestrated by Benjamin Netanyahu in exchange for its support for keeping him in power, leading one Ha’aretz commentator to name him a “lobbyist for the Kahanist party.”
While Meir Kahane’s Kach Party was banned from the Knesset in 1988 for incitement to racism – and both Kach and another Kahanist group, Kahane Chai, have long been labeled Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the U.S. – Kahane’s Jewish supremacist agenda has over the years become woven into Israeli mainstream policies. His direct followers in the Religious Zionism party unabashedly promote his “outright fascist agenda” (in the words of +972 Magazine) and are now poised to enter the Knesset.
Amjad Iraqi is an editor and writer at +972 Magazine. He is also a policy analyst at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, and was previously an advocacy coordinator at Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. In addition to +972, he has contributed to the London Review of Books, The Guardian, and Le Monde Diplomatique, among other outlets. He tweets @aj_iraqi.
Prof. Rabbi Shaul Magid is Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, and the Kogod Senior Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He is also the rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue in Seaview, NY. He studied for his M.A. in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, and earned his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1994. His rabbinical ordination is from Jerusalem in 1984. He is the author of many books including From Metaphysics to Midrash (Indiana University Press, 2008), American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society (Indiana University Press, 2013), Hasidism Incarnate: Hasidism, Christianity, and the Construction of Modern Judaism (Stanford University Press, 2014), Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism (Academic Studies press, 2019) and The Bible, the Talmud, and the New Testament: Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik’s Commentary to the New Testament (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). His new book Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical will be published by Princeton University Press in October 2021.
Natasha Roth-Rowland is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Virginia and a former editor at +972 Magazine. Her research focuses on the Israeli- and American-Jewish far right across the twentieth century. She previously spent several years living in Israel-Palestine, working as a translator and breaking news editor for various news outlets, and reporting from the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). With more than 25 years working in the Middle East foreign policy arena, Lara is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She is published widely in the U.S. and international press and is regularly consulted by members of Congress and their staffs, by Washington-based diplomats, by policy-makers in capitals around the world, and by journalists in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her work at FMEP, Lara is a Contributing Writer at Jewish Currents and a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP). Prior to joining FMEP, Lara was the Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now, and before that she was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, serving in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. She holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service; in addition to English, Lara speaks French, Arabic, Spanish, (weak) Italian, and muddles through in Hebrew. She tweets @LaraFriedmanDC.
Resources shared during the webinar:
Follow our panelists:
- Amjad Iraqi → https://twitter.com/aj_iraqi
- –> https://www.972mag.com/
- Shaul Magid → https://jewish.dartmouth.edu/people/shaul-magid
- Natasha Roth-Rowland → https://twitter.com/NatashaRoth01
Resources from +972 Magazine on the upcoming Israeli elections:
- “A guide to Israel’s never-ending elections” –> https://www.972mag.com/israel-election-2021-guide/
- “Netanyahu is embracing fascists — and the world is tolerating them” –> https://www.972mag.com/ben-gvir-netanyahu-israel-election/
From Natasha Roth-Rowland:
- +972 podcast with Natasha Roth-Rowland: “Does Kahanism expose what Israel tries to hide?” –> https://www.972mag.com/kahanism-natasha-roth-rowland-podcast/
- “Israel’s Fascist Sideshow takes Center Stage” by Natasha Roth-Rowland → https://www.972mag.com/as-kahanists-return-israels-fascist-sideshow-takes-center-stage/
From Shaul Magid:
- Forthcoming book, Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical –> https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691179339/meir-kahane
- “Kahane Won” by Shaul Magid → https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/israel-middle-east/articles/kahane-won
Leadership of Otzma Yehudit / Jewish Power, which is vying for the Knesset as part of the Religious Zionism party:
- A Ha’aretz profile of Itamar Ben-Gvir –> https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-jewish-terrorism-s-star-lawyer-1.5383915
- “Kahane lives? What does Itamar ben Gvir, backed by Netanyahu, really stand for?” → https://www.timesofisrael.com/kahane-lives-focus-turns-to-would-be-mk-ben-gvirs-exact-brand-of-extremism/
American Jewish objections to Kahanists entering the Knesset in 2019:
- “Netanyahu Sparks Outrage over Pact with Racist Party” → https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/24/world/middleeast/benjamin-netanyahu-otzma-yehudit-jewish-power.html
- “‘Racist and Reprehensible’ AIPAC Slams Kahanist Party Backed by Netanyahu”: → https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-racist-and-reprehensible-aipac-slams-kahanist-party-backed-by-netanyahu-1.6959858
Kahane’s 1985 draft bill to ban Jewish & Arab sexual relationships → https://www.upi.com/Archives/1985/10/31/Kahane-can-push-law-to-ban-Arab-Israeli-sex-court-says/2890499582800/
On Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the “Religious Zionist” party: “Radical Settler, ‘Proud Homophobe’ and Wunderkind: Meet the New Leader of Israel’s Far Right” → https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-radical-settler-proud-homophobe-and-wunderkind-new-leader-of-israel-s-far-right-1.6846001
For a new incarnation of Jewish Americans’ impact, see this new research about the Kohelet Forum, which is behind the Nation-State Law and funded by American Jews: “The U.S. Billionaires Secretly Funding the Right-Wing Effort to Reshape Israel” → https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.HIGHLIGHT.MAGAZINE-the-u-s-billionaires-secretly-funding-the-right-wing-effort-to-reshape-israel-1.9611994
- For some background on the Jewish underground, “How a group of Jewish Terrorists ended up in Israel’s halls of power” —> https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-how-a-group-of-jewish-terrorists-ended-up-in-israel-s-halls-of-power-1.6244028
- “Israel’s Lehava Stirs Anarchy in Jerusalem” → https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/4/israels-lehava-stirs-anarchy-in-jerusalem
- For instance: “In Jerusalem, a Far-right Jewish Gang Frequently Attacks Arabs – and the Police Do Almost Nothing” —> https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-in-jerusalem-a-far-right-jewish-gang-is-attacking-arabs-with-impunity-1.5490846
On the political future:
- Shaul Magid and Yehuda Magid, “Democracy in Israel/Palestine Today: Ethnic Democracy or Ethnocracy?” –> https://publicseminar.org/essays/democracy-in-israel-palestine-today/
- Peter Beinart, “Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine” —> https://jewishcurrents.org/yavne-a-jewish-case-for-equality-in-israel-palestine/
- For more on liberal Zionists’ attachment to two states, see Nathan Thrall, “The Separate Regimes Delusion,” January 2021 in the London Review of Books —> https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n02/nathan-thrall/the-separate-regimes-delusion