I will always remember the moment. I was at my home in Brooklyn speaking on the phone with the woman who sold us paper and plastic goods for our catering service. On the other side of the room, the television was on. On the table where I was sitting, lay an open page of The Jewish Press where I had circled the next time that I could go to see the rabbi whom we referred to as the ”Rav.”
The Rav was a busy man and wasn’t scheduled to be in the United States for very long. Unfortunately, I was delayed with work details and couldn’t take my wife that evening to Manhattan to meet him. Several days earlier we arrived at the tail end of a demonstration outside the United Nations where we heard the Rav plead to his fellow Jews to “believe in the burning bush and not in George Bush.” Suddenly there was an announcement on the television and a scream from the woman on my phone. Rabbi Meir Kahane had been shot. A short time later he was pronounced dead.
I was 25 years old and I cried every day for two weeks. I saw and worked with observant Jews at the time who couldn’t care less and went about their regular routines the morning after the murder in their city as if nothing happened. I remember the administrator of a local Yeshiva that I prepared meals for welcoming me in the morning with the following statement, “Well, they really got your guy last night.” On the other hand, thousands upon thousands of Jews like myself mourned and understood what was lost to us. “You see,” I replied to the administrator, “they didn’t get my guy. They got our guy.” The more time has passed the more clear it has become.
The most maligned name within the Jewish community for the last 40 plus years has been that of Kahane. Character assassination has run rampant and more from the Israeli leadership and the non-elected dictators who run the Jewish establishment in the diaspora than from non-Jewish circles. They are obsessed with outlawing, banning, harassing, etc. They will do everything to keep the books off the shelves of the Jewish libraries, articles out of Jewish and Israeli newspapers, Torah commentaries out of synagogues, etc. Why?
When Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ztl was asked about the 13 principles that guided the Rav’s political party he said that they were consistent with authentic Judaism. I recall when a Leftist member of Knesset tried to strike down a statement that the Rav had just made and the deputy speaker at the time who was from one of the religious parties replied, “I can’t because he’s quoting the Talmud!”
Rabbi Kahane zt”l hy”d often said, “I say what they think.” Many were in agreement but lacking in pure faith and conviction to come out and say so unequivocally. Others who chastised and put down the Rav refused to debate him. After seeing him in debate after debate against congressmen, professors, lawyers, rabbis, etc., I understood the real reason why many refused to debate him. They were scared of being humiliated.
The Left and the fake Right of Israel called him a fascist and had no problem banning his party and later outlawing his son’s organization completely. These people today continue to fight for the rights of human garbage such as Zoabi and Tibi to have the democratic right to demonize Israel while we the Israeli taxpayers foot their salaries.
Most importantly to me was his mesirut nefesh, self-sacrifice. He didn’t sit in a study or an office and tell his students or followers what to do. He went out and took chances and many times got hurt and in the end got killed. He correctly predicted all the tragedies that are upon us at this time. He warned us. He told the Jews of the diaspora to come home and he told the Jews of Israel to be good Jews and work to make Israel a free Nation in our Land: Free of terror, free of the fear of antisemitism, free of outrageous taxes and bureaucracy.
The Supreme Court of Israel upheld the banning of his party in 1988 when he was poised to become the 3rd largest party in Israel. They wouldn’t have been in the position to make such a ruling without the Knesset election committee ruling first to ban his party, Kach. They made a mockery out of the word democracy. The banning left him unprotected when he traveled as he was no longer a member of Knesset. He was still out there day after day fighting to make Israel a real proud Jewish State when he was gunned down. Many of his opponents couldn’t hide their delight at his passing. Now we all pay, for the hope that we had was eliminated.
Now, 24 years later I have watched the world go crazy. There are posters and stickers everywhere saying Kahane was right. Those who understood the man and his ideas back then and knew he was right aren’t celebrating. We had hoped and prayed that his ideas would take hold for a better tomorrow and we feared that had they not, it would be to our demise.
Yes, Kahane was right. Twenty-four years later I cried today once again for what he was, what he represented, and what could have been. Now, it’s up to us to work together to make that dream a reality.