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November 04, 1988 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

MEDIA MONITOR

Shamir Backed Kahane
Violence, Says Reporter

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R

abbi Meir Kahane's
violent campaign in
the late 1960s and
early 1970s against Soviet
targets in the U.S., according
to a report in The Nation, was
inspired, funded and master-
minded largely by Israeli
right-wingers, including cur-
rent Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Shamir and
Techiyah Party leader Geula
Cohen.
The explosive charges are
leveled in the magazine's cur-
rent issue by journalist
Robert I. Friedman, who is
writing a biography of
Kahane.
The secret relationship be-
tween Kahane, Shamir and
Cohen, says Friedman, was
forged when Cohen visited
Kahane in December 1969 at
the Manhattan offices of the
Jewish Defense League
(JDL), which Kahane had
founded the previous year.
The JDL was then focusing
primarily on tensions be-
tween blacks and Jews in
New York City.
"Why are you wasting time
fighting the shvartzers," ask-
ed Cohen. "The vital issue for
Jews is the plight of Soviet
Jewry. The Russians are plan-
ning to liquidate our people!'
Kahane, according to Fried-
man, "instinctively grasped
that the predicament of So-
viet Jews . . . could generate
international headlines."
"Overnight," he writes,
Kahane changed the JDL in-
to an anti-Soviet organiza-
tion. There was one catch: In
exchange for logistical sup-
port from Israelis and funds
from Bernard Deutsch, a
wealthy American business-
man keenly interested in
Soviet Jewry, Kahane "would
have to follow orders."
In the next few months, a
pro-Soviet Jewry guerrilla
war was organized. It would
be waged by the JDL and
"orchestrated by several
prominent right-wing
Israelis, including members
of Israel's intelligence service,
the Mossad." The group's
"central player," according to
Friedman, was Shamir, who
had been Mossad's chief of
operations until 1965 and had
since "maintained close ties
to the agency."
Kahane's handlers rea-
soned, according to Friedman,
that "the selective use of
violence against Soviet
targets in the United States

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Meir Kahane: Were the activities of his Jewish Defense League directed
by Israel's right wing?

and Europe would inevitably
strain U.S.-Soviet rela-
tions . . . They predicted that,
rather than risk detente, the
Soviet Union would be forced
to alleviate the crisis by free-
ing hundreds of thousands of
Jews?'
On Dec. 29, 1969, the JDL
simultaneously took over the
New York offices of Tass, In-
tourist and Aeroflot, and
painted the Hebrew words for
"The Jewish Nation Lives"
inside a Soviet plane they had
boarded at Kennedy Interna-
tional Airport.
By the fall of 1971, reports
Friedman, "JDL attacks
against Soviet targets in the
United States and Europe
had become so numerous that
that President Nixon became
concerned Kahane would
wreck the Strategic Arms
Limitation Talks!' Friedman
slates that a confidential
State Department memoran-
dum urged that Justice
Department indictments
against JDL troublemakers
would "measurably improve
the ability of the United
States to deal with the Soviet
Union on substantive policy
issues:'
In July 1971, Kahane was
convicted for conspiring to
manufacture firebombs. He
received a suspended five-
year sentence and a five-year
probation. Two months later,
he moved to Israel, where he
was embraced by the right-
wing.
But instead of joining the
right-wing establishment,
Kahane opened a JDL office
in Jerusalem and, wrote
Friedman, "turned the
violent tactics he had
employed against the Rus-
sians on Israeli Arabs, a black
Hebrew sect living in Dimona

and Christian churches in
Jerusalem!'
Although Kahane's "covert
backers" were dismayed,
their final break with him
was over money, not tactics.
In early 1972, according to
Friedman's sources involved
in the secret operation,
Kahane was given $70,000 to
stage violent demonstrations
in England, France and
North America. "The
climax," reported Friedman,
"was to be in Canada, where
Kahane was supposed to ar-
range the kidnapping of
Soviet Prime Minister Alexi
Kosygin, scheduled to arrive
on a state visit that summer!"
The action was not carried
out and Kahane refused to
return the money. Instead,
says Friedman, he used it to
finance his first unsuccessful
run for the Knesset in 1973.
Meeting with Kahane in a
suite at the Tel Aviv Hilton,
reports Friedman, Guela
Cohen and others called him
a "thief and a liar" and ir-
revocably split with him.
Friedman draws two- major
conclusions from the Israeli
right-wing's relations with
Kahane:
• It effectively met its
original goals. It got the issue
of Soviet Jews onto front
pages "and that is all Cohen
and the others wanted. By
late 1972, the American
Jewish establishment, which
had played down the Soviet
Jewry question, had set up
well-funded bureaucracies to
deal with the problem!'
• "Although Shamir and
Cohen clearly had much to do
with turning Kahane into a
potent political phenomenon,
they would now like nothing
better than to destroy his
career and siphon away his
thousands of supporters."

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