Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meir Kahane as The Scapegoat

The figure of Meir Kahane was a notable one during the First Intifada; he was the ultra-right deviationist posited in contrast to the 'liberal' approaches of the Labor Party of Israel, a kind of Ron Paul in a yarmulke by way of New York City.
However, as noted by Edward Said in his introduction to BLAMING THE VICTIMS, Kahane was not any sort of exception to the rule in praxis, only in philosophy because he chose to be open about his theocratic impulses.  In this sense, at least a Marxist one, it becomes acceptable to excuse Kahane because he is obviously so saturated with 'The Opium of the People', a violent and repulsive victim of ideology he was raised in (when Ze'ev Jabotinsky is a childhood house guest, it becomes almost insured that the child will be glued to that brand of ideology).
By contrast, it is worthwhile to emphasize that it was secular Jews who defined the leadership of the various Zionist aliyat, and these Europeans were in fact shunned by the Palestinian Jews for their abandonment of Talmudic principles.  There was no 'God' in the ideological program of Jabotinsky, only material and geographic hegemony.  The concept of a 'Jewish State' was rooted in a cultural experience Kahane saw as needing further purification and dogmatism, to the point he openly subverted the norms of the Knesset so to further his idea that it was not a truly 'Jewish' parliament because it placed civil law above the regulations of the Torah.
This point is made most clear in the recent Israeli film THE LAW IN THESE PARTS, where Israeli military and legal specialists, including justices from the Supreme Court, are basically cornered by the documentarian into admitting that Israeli law is theoretically totally different from the actual execution of the laws by the IDF and other legal bodies that disenfranchise the Palestinians.  In many ways, the murder of Kahane was one book-end, and the murder of Rabin was the other.  What is most important to take away from this insight, however, is that, while Kahane was murdered by an Arab and Rabin by an Israeli disgusted by the Prime Minister's conciliatory gestures to the PLO, both men were, in both ideology and practice, essentially the same with their regard to the Palestinians.  Kahane openly embraced the Settler sub-culture in Israel, Rabin avoided chastising it, but both did about the same amount of harm to Palestinians; in all fairness, it was the military hero Rabin who was more culpable of wrongdoing than Kahane, because he was much more secular in his religious orientation.
This brings me to my point, that Kahane was merely a convenient tool of the Hawks of the Knesset, even the Labor Party, because his extremism made harsh policy towards the Palestinians seem, in comparison, humane and decent.  Which, of course, is the much more relevant and important reality of the entire issue: Kahane never went farther than his one seat in the Knesset, while Rabin was twice elected PM.  The figure of Kahane is a cudgel, because he is an excuse for those who call themselves 'moderate'.  In this 60 MINUTES report by Mike Wallace (a segment which seems unable to name the Palestinians as anything other than 'Arabs'), it becomes clear that Kahane is posited as a sort of Shylock figure, a villainous Jew willing to subvert all civil society and modern norms of humanist democratic order in the name of Eretz Yisrael.  In no way is it made clear that, while he said obscene nonsense, it was the IDF that actually DID, and CONTINUES TO DO, what the Rabbi was hoping for.

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