Nearly a thousand people crowded into the event hall of the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem on Tuesday night for the memorial service marking twenty years since Rabbi Meir Kahane was assassinated, on November 5, 1990.
“You can see a true awakening to Rav Kahane, because every year it’s growing, every year more and more people are joining us,” right-wing activist Baruch Marzel told The Jerusalem Post as he hurriedly tried to organize more chairs for hundreds of people standing outside. “There are those who thought that with each passing year it would be weaker, but that’s a lie.”
The 20-year memorial also celebrated the Hebrew release of a book by Kahane’s wife, Rabbanit Libby Kahane, His Life and Thought. The English version was released two years ago. The book marks the first time Kahane’s intensely private wife has shared personal stories about the Rabbi’s life behind the events and speeches. “I wanted to give a full and true picture of Meir,” said Libby Kahane. “He understood he wouldn’t see success in everything he did, but he didn’t hold back because of that.”
American-Israel Rabbi Meir Kahane was an ultra-nationalist leader who advocated a “Greater Israel”—annexing the West Bank and Gaza—and paying or forcing the Arabs residents to leave. He also favored a society based on Jewish law rather than a democracy.
Kahane was the founder of the Kach political party, and served in the Knesset from 1984 until his party was declared racist and barred from elections in 1988. Kach was declared a terrorist organization in 1994 when one of Kahane’s supporters, Baruch Goldstein, went on a shooting rampage at the Cave of the Patriarchs and killed 30 Muslim worshipers. Kahane was assassinated in 1990 after a speech in New York by an Egyptian-American terrorist who had ties to Al Qaeda.
“We’ve gone mainstream,” event organizer and prominent right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir told the Post. “You can even see this in the Knesset, Kadima and even the Labor party are adopting the beliefs of Kahane. People used to be against Rav Kahane in the Knesset, treating him the same way they’re treating Hanin Zoabi, saying he was disgusting, he’s dangerous. And today they understand that all those things he said, he was right.”
The crowd chanted “The nation of Kahane lives” and “Kahane was right” and cheered wildly at videos Kahane’s old speeches when he made statements like “Send the Arabs away!”
Ben Gvir and Marzel are set to lead a march on Wednesday in Umm el-Fahm to mark the anniversary of Kahane’s assassination. Police were initially hesitant to grant permission for the march, fearing a repeat of last year’s march on the outskirts of the city when local youth clashed with riot police.
Earlier this year, the High Court ruled in favor of the right-wing activists holding a march in the city. Thousands of police are expected to secure the area. In the past week, a rash of “Kahane was right” graffiti has been found in Nazereth, Jaffa, and Migdal Ha’emek.