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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rabbi Meir Kahane Was Not A Racist

In honor of the memorial for Rabbi Meir Kahane, that will take place tonight (at 6:00 PM at "Heichal David", 14 Oholiav Street in Jerusalem), I would like to utter this simple truth: Rabbi Meir Kahane was not a racist. Anyone who has a working knowledge of the English language and is familiar with Rabbi Kahane's ideology know this is true. Here is the definition of racism:
Any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview—the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races,” that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some “races” are innately superior to others.
Rabbi Kahane's opposition to Arabs in Israel was not due to any genetic/biological differences that may exist between Arabs and Jews. I remember at least one case of an Arab that converted to Judaism who joined Rabbi Kahane's Kach party. Rabbi Kahane's desire to rid the land of Israel of its Arab dwellers was based on his understanding of Arab national/religious aspirations here, and that they will never live with us in peace and harmony.

Kahanes opponents purposely applied the racist label to him because they lacked the intellectual ability to debate him on the issues that he raised. It is also interesting to note the following from britannica.com:
By the 19th century racism had matured and the idea spread around the world. Racism differs from ethnocentrism in that it is linked to physical and therefore immutable differences among people. Ethnic identity is acquired, and ethnic features are learned forms of behavior. Race, on the other hand, is a form of identity that is perceived as innate and unalterable. In the last half of the 20th century several conflicts around the world were interpreted in racial terms even though their origins were in the ethnic hostilities that have long characterized many human societies (e.g., Arabs and Jews, English and Irish).
Rabbi Kahane was a great Jew, towering above the shallow Jewish "leaders" who were unwilling to honestly discuss and face the issues at hand. May his memory be a blessing.

Update: An anonymous commenter to this blog claims that Rabbi Kahane thought and wrote that Arabs are biologically/genetically inferior to Jews. I challenge anybody to bring a source to this outrageous claim!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

So... when he referred, in his Jewish Press column, to Arabs as "Pere Adam - wild man, not fully human" that wasn't racism.

By the same token, when Nazis or Arabs say the same thing about us, I guess that's not racism either.

This is good to know. I am much happier now. Really.

Cosmic X said...

Anonymous,

The Torah calls Yishmael "Pere Adam", a wild man, and unfortunately the behavior of our neighbors often fits this description.

In any case I think you missed the point: If Kahane were indeed a racist, according to the dictionary definition of the word and not the silly definition of the Knesset or the Israeli High Court of Justice, he would not have accepted an Arab that converted to Judaism into his party. The Nazi's were indeed racists because they saw themselves as genetically/biologically superior to others. The same holds true with regards to the attitude of many whites toward blacks in the United States. On the other hand the Arabs/Israeli conflict is not one based on race on either side, rather it is a National/Religious conflict.

Come on, this isn't so hard to understand!

Anonymous said...

Cui Bonum?

Al Qaeda gladly accepted a Jew from California as one of their English spokespeople. They did this because of its tremendous propaganda value. Doesn't stop them from speaking about Jews as "sons of pigs and monkeys".

Kahane was brilliant. he clearly saw the utility in having an Arab convert on his list (and a Christian convert too, who happened to be a friend of mine.) None of which means he he didn't mean every word he said when he described Arabs as "not fully human." Or maybe he didn't, and was simply not speak carefully, or with precision. Personally, having known him fairly well in those years, I give him more credit than that. I think he always knew exactly what he was saying.

We all know that the Torah describes Yishaelites as "pere adam", but this can just as easily be read as a behavioral description(didn't your mom ever tell you to stop acting like a "wild animal?")

But Kahane clearly chose to give this a biological interpretation. He did so explicitly, in plain English and Hebrew, in lots and lots of places. You can argue that the Torah is also racist, if you can find hard evidence to read the pesukim that way, but it will be pretty hard to find a way to twist Kahane's own words to be saying anything but.

Pointing out that he had an Arab convert on his list hardly proves that he didn't consider that Arab to be inferior, especially considering the powerful motivation to bring the poor sucker on board davka so he (Kahane) could use that fact to claim to the world that he wasn't racist!

Cosmic X said...

You wrote:

"We all know that the Torah describes Yishaelites as "pere adam", but this can just as easily be read as a behavioral description(didn't your mom ever tell you to stop acting like a "wild animal?")"

That was exactly the point I was trying to make when I wrote "and unfortunately the behavior of our neighbors often fits this description."

You also wrote:

"But Kahane clearly chose to give this a biological interpretation. He did so explicitly, in plain English and Hebrew, in lots and lots of places."

I challenge you to bring "lots and lots" of sources to this claim!

Anonymous said...

Videos

Montage
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2110452046554402884

National Press Club Debate
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5040457003958805741

Why Be Jewish?
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9215573308877374512

Russian
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=112979738524810357

הרב כהנא הי"ד מכריז על הקמת מדינת יהודה
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1191455493187741042

Anonymous said...

In addition, Kahane hated blacks. Regardless how they acted.

Alex said...

Your readers may be interested to listen to Meir Kahane's views firsthand. They can download his videos here: samsonblinded.org/blog/and-if-youre-looking-for-a-messiah.htm The downloads are full DVD and sound quality is way better than on google video or youtube.

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