Michael Ben Ari 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman understands some of former MK Meir Kahane’s
concerns, but he is emphatically not the successor of the right-wing firebrand
who was murdered 20 years ago Friday, National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari told The
Jerusalem Post in an interview marking the anniversary.
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Ben-Ari last year
became the first outspoken follower of Kahane to get elected since the Kach
Party was banned, as racist, from running for reelection in 1988. He blasted
Lieberman for sharing some of the views of opposition leader Tzipi Livni on the
need to divide Israel due to a demographic threat.
the problem [with Israeli Arabs] and the electoral asset of [Kahane’s]
viewpoint,” Ben-Ari said. “Polls showed Kach winning at least six seats in 1988
when it was not allowed to run. But Lieberman’s solutions are not far from
Livni’s on the demographic issue. He is not a follower of the rabbi. He talks
about exchanging territory. Kahane wouldn’t even say what [National Union MK
Arye] Eldad does – that Jordan is Palestine. All of Jordan is part of the Land
Kahane was shot dead in New York by El-Sayyid Nosair. He
gained fame for encouraging Jews to defend themselves from New York street
thugs, for being one of the leaders of the effort to free Soviet Jewry, and then
for pushing for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel in his four tumultuous years
in the Knesset from 1984 to 1988.
Ben-Ari, 47, a former yeshiva teacher
with a PhD in Land of Israel Studies, caused a stir two weeks ago when he wrote
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging him to form a probe to
investigate the actions of the American military in Iraq that the WikiLeaks
website alleged were war crimes.
Ben-Ari said Kahane should be remembered
as a different kind of leader, one who, unlike those who saw Israel as a
shelter, believed Israel existed to spread the message that God rules the world
and that Jews must reiterate that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish
“This impacts everything we do,” Ben-Ari said. “For example, the
letter to the UN secretary-general.
Some say, how can we fight the US when
it’s so big? Kahane said God is great and America is nothing. I don’t mean to
mock or harm the US, but we aren’t the slave of any empire.”
recalled Kahane’s emphasis on Jewish brotherhood, noting that he had grown up
with Holocaust consciousness and spoken about “never again.” He said Kahane had
made a point of wearing a kippa in places that others wouldn’t in Brooklyn and
had not been afraid to take on the USSR – “again, little old him against a
supposedly mighty empire.”
Ben-Ari said he had wanted to make a point of
attending the memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin at the Knesset in order to
send a message that even though Kahane obviously would have opposed everything
Rabin did, he did not support killing Jews. But Ben-Ari missed the ceremony
because his daughter was born the day before.
The MK called US President
Barack Obama “a hostile enemy of Israel and the Jewish people” and said that if
due to Obama’s pressure, Netanyahu renewed the freeze in Judea and Samaria, his
party would protest and put pressure on Lieberman and Habayit Hayehudi to leave
Regarding Iran, Ben-Ari said he believed Israel should
ignore the Iranian threat, because it was the world’s problem, and stop talking
about it so much.
“If we pay attention to the barking dog, it will bark
more, but if the world realizes it’s not for us, maybe they will finally take
action against Iran,” he said.