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Meir Kahane

The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical

Shaul Magid

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Sachbuch / Biographien, Autobiographien


The life and politics of an American Jewish activist who preached radical and violent means to Jewish survival

Meir Kahane came of age amid the radical politics of the counterculture, becoming a militant voice of protest against Jewish liberalism. Kahane founded the Jewish Defense League in 1968, declaring that Jews must protect themselves by any means necessary. He immigrated to Israel in 1971, where he founded KACH, an ultranationalist and racist political party. He would die by assassination in 1990. Shaul Magid provides an in-depth look at this controversial figure, showing how the postwar American experience shaped his life and political thought.

Magid sheds new light on Kahane’s radical political views, his critique of liberalism, and his use of the “grammar of race” as a tool to promote Jewish pride. He discusses Kahane’s theory of violence as a mechanism to assure Jewish safety, and traces how his Zionism evolved from a fervent support of Israel to a belief that the Zionist project had failed. Magid examines how tradition and classical Jewish texts profoundly influenced Kahane’s thought later in life, and argues that Kahane’s enduring legacy lies not in his Israeli career but in the challenge he posed to the liberalism and assimilatory project of the postwar American Jewish establishment.

This incisive book shows how Kahane was a quintessentially American figure, one who adopted the radicalism of the militant Left as a tenet of Jewish survival.



Elijah, Avi Weiss, Maurice Eisendrath, Golden calf, Kulturkampf, Superiority (short story), Act of Violence, Zionist Organization of America, Lehi (group), Demonization, Romanticism, Rabbinic Judaism, Revisionist Zionism, Zionism, Stereotypes of Jews, Meir Kahane, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, Orthodox Judaism, Irgun, Lenny Bruce, American Thinker, Anti-communism, God, Jewish Defense League, Mitzvah, Jewish refugees, Purim, Judaism, Alt-right, Scientific racism, Criticism of capitalism, American Jews, Religion, Freedom Riders, Zealots (Judea), Liberalism, Occupy movement, Soviet Jewry Movement, Gentile, Aliyah, Avodah Zarah, Oppression, Neturei Karta, Jewish diaspora, Heresy, The Wretched of the Earth, Idolatry, Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Names of God in Judaism, Radicalism (historical), Good and evil, Jewish question, Abraham Isaac Kook, Ezekiel, Radical chic, Dick Gregory, Diaspora Jew (stereotype), 1982 Lebanon War, Anti-imperialism, Zvi Yehuda Kook, Black nationalism, Racism, Anti-Zionism, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Anti-racism, Jewish assimilation, Secularism, The New York Intellectuals, Apocalypticism, Antisemitism, Black supremacy, Jewish religious terrorism, Malcolm X, Frantz Fanon, Avraham Stern, Post-Zionism, Gush Emunim, Manichaeism, Religious Zionism, Uncle Tom, Jews, Joseph Churba, Shlomo Ben-Yosef, Kabbalah, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Reform Judaism, Conversion to Judaism, Lucy Dawidowicz, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Haredi Judaism, Yeshiva, Joachim Prinz, Arab–Israeli conflict, Hilltop Youth, Liberal elite, Yitzhak Shamir, Blue law, Activism, Kahanism