Kahane memorial service held in J'lem

Far-right looks for political direction; marks 15 years since leader's death.

david haivri kahane 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
david haivri kahane 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Amid calls to abstain from voting in the upcoming elections and yearnings for the establishment of a Jewish state, hundreds of far-right activists gathered in a Jerusalem hall Sunday night to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane. Founder of the banned Kach right-wing political party, Kahane - known for his staunch anti-Palestinian views - was gunned down by an Egyptian assassin on a New York street 15 years ago. On Sunday, his followers, decked out in yellow Kach t-shirts, paid tribute to their mentor and leader and visited his gravesite in Jerusalem where they prayed for the dissolution of the Knesset and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government. Speakers at Sunday night's main memorial service included far-right activists Noam Federman, Baruch Marzel and head of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva Rabbi Yehuda Kruezer. "Our goal is the establishment of a Jewish state with a Sanhedrin and Jewish institutions," Kruezer told the crowd of mostly haredi men. "We cannot give up." Outside the hall, activists set up folding tables and pawned off Kahane books and paraphernalia including sweatshirts reading: "Disengage from the state; Connect to the Torah." Demonstrating the activist's abhorrence for the IDF and the state, the vendors said the going rate for the sweatshirt was NIS 40 but for a soldier it would cost NIS 70. But with elections around the corner, the speeches focused not only on thwarting additional disengagements and withdrawals from the West Bank but also on the question of whether the Right should bother casting a vote in the upcoming general elections. "I will not vote and am calling on people not to vote," said far-right activist Baruch Ben-Yosef, in direct defiance of his longtime partner in arms, Marzel, who last week announced his candidacy for the Knesset as the head of the National Jewish Front political party. "There is just no reason to vote." Flyers were distributed at the service evoking Ben-Yosef's call to abstain from voting and claiming that Kahane himself - who served as a member of the Knesset - knew that it was not just pointless to vote but even forbidden. "The rabbi's [Kahane] real students understand that today's Knesset is a source of impurity that kosher Jews keep away from," one flyer read. "It is clear that if the rabbi was alive today he wouldn't have run for the Knesset and would have forbidden us from doing so." Marzel said he understood the far-right's disappointment with the establishment but expressed hope his candidacy would bring the tens of thousands of disenchanted right-wing activists - mostly from settlements in the Samaria - to the polling stations. "The people's disenchantment is the exact reason why I need to run for the Knesset," Marzel said. "If I don't run then these people will just not vote."