US calls Ben-Gvir's participation in Kahane memorial 'abhorrent'

"We remain concerned by the legacy of Kahane and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists."

MK Itamar Ben-Gvir during a discussion and a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset, at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on June 22, 2022. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir during a discussion and a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset, at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on June 22, 2022.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The US State Department called the participation of Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir at a memorial for the late far-right Israeli politician Rabbi Meir Kahane “abhorrent.”

“Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent – there is no other word for it,” spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday.

“We remain concerned by the legacy of Kahane and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists,” he said. “We’ve condemned incitement, we’ve condemned violence and racism in all of its forms. There is a good reason why Kahane[‘s group Kach] remained designated as a specially designated global terrorist organization.”

Price urged all parties to “maintain calm, exercise restraint and to refrain from actions that only serve to exacerbate tensions – and that includes in Jerusalem.”

 A poster of late radical rabbi Meir Kahane as members of the outlawed Kach and Kahane Hai parties meet in New York in 1995, marking the anniversary of his death. (credit: REUTERS) A poster of late radical rabbi Meir Kahane as members of the outlawed Kach and Kahane Hai parties meet in New York in 1995, marking the anniversary of his death. (credit: REUTERS)

Ben-Gvir booed for expressing disagreement with Kahane

Earlier on Thursday, Ben-Gvir was booed at the memorial for Kahane after stating that there are actions the rabbi did that he “agrees less with” today, adding that the assassinated rabbi was different in private than he was in public.

“It’s not a secret that today I am not Rabbi Kahane and I do not support the deportation of all the Arabs,” Ben-Gvir said, sparking more booing from the crowd. “But I will of course work for the deportation of terrorists from Israel, for the Jewish character of the state, for the settlements and Jewish identity.”

Kahane, who was born in the US, was one of the founders of the domestic terrorist group the Jewish Defense League (JDL). In 1971, he formed the far-right Kach party in Israel, advocating the expulsion of Arabs from the Jewish state.

The Kach head was arrested dozens of times, but managed to earn a seat in the Knesset in 1984. By 1988, Kahane was disqualified from running for Knesset. In 1990, he was assassinated in New York by El Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian-born US citizen.