Kach Party ("As it is," "thus!," in Hebrew)

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KACH PARTY ("As it is," "thus!," in Hebrew)

Israeli ultranationalist movement. At the beginning of 1968 in New York, Rabbi Meir Kahane announced the coming of the messianic era and the constitution of the theocratic state of Judea during the exultation rising out of the Israeli conquest of the West Bank (the Arab-Israel War of 1967). In 1971, after having emigrated to Israel, he created the ultranationalist Kach Movement, preaching the creation of a Greater Israel, from which the Arabs would be excluded. This movement attracted a few hundred members, mostly of U.S. origin, and had a militia, Ronen (also known as the "Committee of Road Security"), which was under the direction of Baruch Marzel and Tiran Polack.

In July 1984, Kach won two seats at the Knesset, and, in the following September, Rabbi Kahane proposed a draft bill for discrimination between Jews and non-Jews. On 18 October 1988, confronted with their indelibly racist attitudes, the Knesset passed a basic law outlawing any party whose platform contained racist provisions. As a result, Kach was banned from participating in the 1988 elections. Having returned to the United States, Rabbi Kahane was assassinated in New York on 5 November 1990, which brought on a split in the movement. Some members, under the impetus of Baruch Marzel, decided to keep the name of Kach, while others followed the rabbi's son, Binyamin Zeʾev Kahane, who left the party to found Kahane Hai. On 25 February 1994, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a member of Kach, killed twenty-nine Arabs praying in the Mosque of the Cave of the Patriarchs at Hebron. On the following 13 March, the Israeli Supreme Court declared Kach and Kahane Hai illegal, and several of their members were placed in preventive detention. So as to keep up the activities of Kach, its supporters decided to create a new clandestine movement, Koach. Accused of inciting to rebellion, Baruch Marzel was interrogated by the police, and then sentenced to house arrest. On 15 May 1995, the Israeli minister of the interior dismissed Baruch Marzel from his duties on the municipal council of Kiryat Arba. On 3 October, approximately twenty Kach members, among them Avigdor Askin, gathered in front of the house of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, praying that he die and accusing him of treason for the accords passed with the Palestinians. The prayer was chanted in Aramaic, under the leadership of Rabbi Yosef Dayan. On the following 4 November, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist belonging to a splinter group close to Kach.

In July 1997, after he had been sentenced to four months of prison for having organized the ceremony of malediction against Rabin, Askin announced the creation of a new extremist movement, the "Camp of Israel." According to his declarations, this movement "aimed at exploding the myth of peace and substituting a military alternative for it. The people of Israel needed to choose between war or the destruction of Israel." In July 2000, while Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were taking place at Camp David, members of the movement made death threats against Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. During the following month of October, confronted by the threat of expulsion hanging over the settlers following the Israeli-Palestinian accords, Kach and Kahane Hai decided to join forces. With Kach officially outlawed (though assembly was still tolerated), Marzel ran unsuccessfully for the Knesset in the 2003 general elections on the Herut Party list. In early September 2004, Marzel and other Kach members announced the creation of a new political party—Hil, an acronym for Jewish National Front—dedicated to preventing the removal of Jewish settlements and transferring 2 million Arabs "over the Jordan River."

SEE ALSO Arab-Israel War (1967);Herut Party;Judea and Samaria;Kahane Hai;Kiryat Arba;Koach.