Terrorism Profiles

Kahane Chai (KACH)

Alternative Names:

Repression of Traitors, State of Yehuda, Sword of David, Dikuy Bogdim, DOV, Judea Police, Kahane Lives, Kfar Tapuah Fund, State of Judea, Judean Legion, Judean Voice, Qomemiyut Movement, Way of the Torah and Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea

Kach and Kahane Chai are typically referred to as being interchangeable terms for both organizations. It is believed that they are not separate entities and are simply aliases of each other.

Location:

Israel and West Bank settlements, particularly Qiryat Arba’ in Hebron.

Leadership:

Rabbi Meir Kahane founded the organization in 1971 following his emigration to Israel in 1969. Kahane rooted his beliefs in extremist Jewish ideology, and believed in forcibly removing all Arabic people from Israel.  It is this belief that guided both the Kach and Kahane Chai movements. Kahane was assassinated in November 1990 after making a speech in New York.

Binyamin Kahane was the son of Rabbi Meir Kahane and founder of the offshoot Kahane Chai. The main reason for the formation of this group was disagreement between Binyamin Kahane and Kach leadership. Binyamin Kahane died in 2000.

Membership:

Kahane Chai’s core membership is believed to be fewer than 100. The group’s membership and support networks are overwhelmingly composed of Israeli citizens, most of whom live in West Bank settlements.

Funding Sources:

Funding comes from sympathizers in the United States, Israel and Europe.

Origins

Kahane formed the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in 1968, which promoted vigilantism and urged American Jews to arm themselves. The group targeted anti-Semitism across the US within African-American, Soviet-bloc and Palestinian communities.

In 1971, Kahane emigrated to Israel where he established the Israeli office for the JDL. Kahane later founded Kach as the political arm of the JDL. Kach was a Jewish nationalist extremist group that believed in expelling Arabs and establishing a homogenous biblical Israel. Kahane believed in pursuing these goals through terrorism and anti-Arab teachings.

The party was unable to garner any substantial political support until 1984 when it passed the electoral threshold for the first time. Despite a parliamentary boycott of Kahane’s speeches, popularity for Kach grew with the potential to receive a small increase in the number of seats in the 1988 election. However, the supreme court ruled that political parties that incite racism would be disqualified.

During November 1990, Kahane was assassinated after a speech in New York. This lead to a divide amongst the leadership, resulting in the establishment of Kahane Chai, under Benyamin Kahane, as a hardline Israeli group. Kahane Chai, like Kach before it, condoned violence as a viable method for establishing a homogenous state.

Despite these organizations being ‘separate,’ they are deeply similar and share core leadership. Kach and Kahane Chai are typically used interchangeably to refer to both groups in the media. Kach has not committed a large terrorist attack since 1994, although people affiliated with the groups have been arrested for “low-level attacks” since 2000.

Both organizations were designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations on October 8, 1997 by the United States government. In addition, both groups have been outlawed by the Israeli Government. Kahane Chai has remained active since 2000, however there has been no evidence to substantiate involvement in low-level attacks.

Major Attacks:

The group is suspected of involvement in a number of low-level attacks since the start of the First Palestinian Intifada in 2000

February 25, 1994: Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a Kach supporter, killed 29 people in a mosque in Hebron.

August 4, 2005: A Jewish IDF deserter named Eden Natan-Zada – who is said to have been inspired by Kach – carried out a shooting attack on a bus full of Arabs in Shfaram, Israel.

Ideological Roots:

Extremist Jewish ideological roots, seek to restore the biblical state of Israel.

Objectives:

Kach and Kahane Chai are groups that have used terrorism to pursue their goals of expanding Jewish rule across the West Bank and expelling the Palestinians.

Tactics:

Kahane Chai has harassed and threatened Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli government officials, and has vowed revenge for the death of Binyamin Kahane and his wife. Since 2003, Kahane Chai activists have called for the execution of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and physically intimidated other Israeli and Palestinian government officials who favoured the dismantlement of Israeli settlements. The most serious threats leveled by Kahane Chai involved threats on the lives of politicians who supported the disengagement plan as well as an announcement of plans to derail train tracks in protest of the new policy.

Although they have not explicitly claimed responsibility for a series of mosque burnings in the West Bank, individuals affiliated with Kahane Chai are widely suspected of being the perpetrators.

Despite these threats and their ideological roots, the groups itself has rarely acted out in violence.

 Updated on January 14, 2016. 

References


  1. “Kach, Kahane Chai (Israel, Extremists).” Council on Foreign Relations. Last Modified March 20, 2008. Accessed January 13, 2016.
    http://www.cfr.org/israel/kach-kahane-chai-israel-extremists/p9178#p6
  2. “Kahane Chai.” The Global Terrorism Database. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.start.umd.edu/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=3750
  3. “Kach.” The Global Terrorism Database. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.start.umd.edu/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=61
  4. “Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. US Department of State. Last Modified July 31, 2012. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2011/195553.htm#kahane
  5. “Currently Listed Entities.” Public Safety Canada. Last modified November 20, 2014. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2034
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