Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kach and Kahane Chai
Kach was an extremist right-wing Israeli party led by Meir Kahane. After his assassination in 1990, it split into two movements, Kach and Kahane Chai, literally Kahane lives. This article will deal with all three groups.
Meir Kahane's Kach had two main items on its political agenda. The first was the forced transfer of all Arabs from the borders of Israel, including Israeli citizens. The second was the establishment of a Jewish theocracy. It first ran in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset in 1974, only three years after Kahane's arrival to Israel. It failed to attract the minimum votes (at the time, one percent) in 1974, 1977 and 1981. It finally entered the Knesset in 1984 and Kahane was its only representative.
This caused a significant counterreaction in the Israeli public, and in 1985 Basic Law: the Knesset (basic laws are Israel's equivalent of a constitution) was altered to disallow parties which
- Negate the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state;
- Preach racism;
- Support the armed struggle of an enemy state or a terrorist organization against the state of Israel.
The word Jewish in the first clause was added to make the law balanced between left- and right-wing, and was specifically targeted at another newcomer to the Knesset, the Progressive List for Peace . And indeed, before the 1988 elections, the central elections committee disqualified both parties. Both appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the disqualification of Kach due to racism, but reversed the disqualification of the Progressive List (it should be noted that the elections committee also disqualified Kach before 1984, but then the Supreme court reversed its decision). This ended Kach's existence as a political party.
Split of Kach
Following Kahane's assassination in 1990, the movement split into two groups with similar ideologies and somewhat overlapping membership: Kach and Kahane Chai. Kach was led by Baruch Marzel out of Hebron. Kahane Chai was led by Meir's son Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane out of Kfar Tapuach until he and his wife were murdered in a random ambush by Palestinian terrorists in 2000. Both groups were outlawed by Israel in 1994 under anti-terrorism laws following statements in support of Baruch Goldstein's (himself a Kach member) massacre of Arabs at the Cave of the Patriarchs (A judicial investigation into the event showed that Goldstein acted alone). Many of their leaders spent time in the Israeli jail under counter-terrorist acts, particularly Noam Federman, who spent more than half a year in administrative lockup. They still retain several hundred hard-core supporters, including support from individuals in the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa and Australia. Presumably, most of Kach's electorate moved to less incendiary parties such as Rehavam Zeevi's Moledet movement and Geula Cohen's Tehiya Party.
Kach's Effect Today
Kach activists played a key role in the inciteful activities that led to the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995, including brandishing the notorious banners showing a doctored photo of the prime minister in a SS uniform. However security investigations have never seriously linked the Kach movement to the murder. Although the group has not been directly associated with any major crimes, they have been blamed for a variety of extremist activities and hooliganism. The United States State Department designates the group as a terrorist organization  and lists their current activities as including:
- Organize protests against the Israeli Government. Harass and threaten Palestinians in Hebron and the West Bank. Have threatened to attack Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli Government officials. Have vowed revenge for the death of Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane and his wife. Suspected of involvement in a number of low-level attacks since the start of the al-Aqsa intifadh. 
In the 2003 elections Kach received a blow when Ex-Kach activist (according to leading Kach activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, they are all united basically as former activists rather than an official organization) Baruch Marzel ran 2nd on the Knesset slate of ex-Likud Michael Kleiner's Herut which failed to win a single seat.
- The Kahane website
- Terrorist Group Profiles: Kach and Kahane Chai (from the United States State Department)
- International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism: Kach and Kahane Chai
- Kahane Chai Legal Defense Fund
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