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Jewish Defense League (JDL)

The JDL was organized in September, 1968, by Rabbi Meir D. Kahane, who proclaimed that violence is necessary to accomplish the objectives of the JDL. Meir Kahane, who would soon gain an international notoriety as a right-wing rabble rouser, was living in Rochdale in Queens at the time of the 1968 teacher's strike, rabbi to Rochdale's orthodox congregation, and leading the newly founded Jewish Defense League. There were many residents from Rochdale who fit into the "New Deal Jews mugged by the 1960s, turn conservative" narrative.

Kahane founded the Jewish Defense League and then immigrated to Israel and established the Kach party, which was banned from his country's parliament in 1988 because of its blatant racism-the group advocated, for example, the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Headquartered in New York City, the JDL was composed primarily of young Jewish-American extremists who consider themselves to be protectors of "Jewish rights" and supporters of the state of Israel. Chapters of the JDL were located in several of the larger metropolitan areas of the United States. Many JDL members were trained in self-defense and the use of firearms. By means of their terrorist activity, the JDL attempted to publicize the poor treatment received by Jews in the Soviet Union.

In 1970 the Soviets concluded a trial viewed in the U.S. as having anti-Semitic overtones, involving a group of accused airplane hijackers. Even as two of the Soviet Jews charged with the crime appealed their death sentences, the first ever levied for hijacking in the USSR, the Jewish Defense League undertook a campaign of bombing Soviet installations and intimidating Soviet personnel in New York and Washington. On 04 January 1970, Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin delivered a note to the State Department accusing the American Government of "connivance" in these hostile acts and warned that the Soviet Government could not guarantee the safety of American officials and businessmen in Moscow.

On February 19, 1983, a pipe bomb exploded in front of the Soviet Aeroflot Airline office in Washington, DC, causing minor damage. Although no person(s) or group claimed responsibility for this bombing, it was attributed to the JDL based on their bombing of the same Aeroflot office on February 19, 1982, utilizing an explosive device of similar construction.

The Jewish Direct Action (JDA) first emerged on February 23, 1984, when it claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Soviet residential complex in Bronx, New York. The goals of this group were initially un-defined. On February 23, 1984, three high-explosive devices detonated at the Soviet residential complex, Bronx, New York, causing damage to a vehicle on which one of the devices landed. A telephone call was received from a person who claimed credit for the bombings on the behalf of the Jewish Direct Action.

On November 5, 1990, El-Sayyid Nosair rushed toward the podium in the Morgan D Room of the Marriott East Side Hotel and assasinated Kahane. At trial, the jury could not be convinced that it was Nosair who shot Kahane. He was convicted on two counts of assault, first-degree coercion (for his treatment of the cabbie), and a weapons charge and packed off to the state prison at Attica. Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others were later indicted for conducting against the United States a war of urban terrorism that included, among other things: the 1990 murder of Meir Kahane (the founder of the Jewish Defense League), the first attack on the World Trade Center, which was bombed on February 26, 1993, plots to murder prominent political and judicial officials, and a conspiracy to carry out what was called a "Day of Terror" - simultaneous bombings of New York City landmarks, including the United Nations complex, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels (through which thousands of commuters traverse daily between lower Manhattan and New Jersey), and the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building that houses the headquarters of the FBI's New York Field Office (a plot that was thwarted).

A Jewish Defense League official blamed Jews 24 December 1976 for not backing the six members of the League who were sentenced to long terms for transporting arms and attacking building occupied by Soviet and Iraq officials. College student Jeffrey Weingarten and three other JDL members were sentenced to jail for terms as long as six years. Thomas Macintosh, a convert to Judaism, was given a probated sentence for turning state’s evidence. The other three were Russel Kelner, former JDL operations officer, Steven Ehrlich and Stephen Rombom, a high school student. Bonnie Pechter, national JDL director, said that the “greatest tragedy is that when Jews are in trouble, other Jews do not come to their aid."

Kelner, a member of the Jewish Defense League, was convicted under a federal statute for threatening to assassinate Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was to be in New York for a meeting at the United Nations. Kelner argued that without proof he specifically intended to carry out the threat, his statement was political hyperbole protected by the First Amendment rather than a punishable true threat. (United States v. Kelner, supra, 534 F.2d at p. 1025.) The narrowly crafted "true threat" under the Circuit Court standard articulated in United States v. Kelner was later abandoned. The Second Circuit added a gloss that, to be a “true threat,” the statement must be sufficiently “unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to the person threatened, as to convey a gravity of purpose and imminent prospect of execution.” Ibid. (quoting United States v. Kelner, 534 F.2d 1020, 1027 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1022 (1976)).

On December 11, 2001, Irving David Rubin and Earl Leslie Krugel were arrested by the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force for conspiring to build and place improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California, and the local office of Congressman Darrell Issa. Rubin and Krugel were subsequently charged with conspiracy to destroy a building by means of an explosive, as well as possession of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence. Rubin and Krugel were active members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a violent extremist Jewish organization. Statements by Rubin and Krugel indicated that they had planned the attack against the mosque to demonstrate the militancy of the JDL. Krugel further indicated that the attack was planned to provide a “wake up call” to the Muslim community. It was determined that Rubin and Krugel had already acquired the necessary components to build an IED, including pipes, fuses, and smokeless powder.

Kach / Kahane Chai

The Jewish Defense League was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kach, which means "Thus," was a fundraising vehicle for Rabbi Kahane; it was never an activist organization in the United States. Stated goal is to restore the biblical state of Israel. Kach (founded by radical Israeli-American Rabbi Meir Kahane) and its offshoot Kahane Chai, which means "Kahane Lives" (founded by Meir Kahane's son Binyamin following his father's assassination in the United States), were declared to be terrorist organizations in March 1994 by the Israeli Cabinet under the 1948 Terrorism Law. This followed the groups' statements in support of Dr. Baruch Goldstein's attack in February 1994 on the al-Ibrahimi Mosque--Goldstein was affiliated with Kach--and their verbal attacks on the Israeli Government.

Kch organized protests against the Israeli Government. Harass and threaten Palestinians in Hebron and the West Bank. Groups have threatened to attack Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli Government officials. They also claimed responsibility for several shooting attacks on West Bank Palestinians in which four persons were killed and two were wounded in 1993. The legacy of Kahane Chai is the Judean Voice, a Jewish news service and periodical published by Mike Guzofsky




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