Can the US afford to ignore the JDL?
On February 14 2010, Israel Hayom published an article by Efrat Porsher suggesting that the Jewish Defense League (JDL) is reorganizing to defend Israeli speakers on campuses in the US and UK and to “prevent diplomats from enemy countries or from countries that are hostile toward Israel from speaking at university venues.” Due to the violent history of this organization — such an endeavor should worry the US as it attempts to prevent domestic terrorist attacks.
The JDL was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who then immigrated to Israel and established the Kach political party with similar ideological roots. In 1988, Kach was outlawed under the revised Knesset Elections Law for inciting racism, having advocated for the cleansing of Arabs from Biblical Israel. Kach and its offshoot, Kahane Chai (“Kahane Lives”) are listed by the State Department as foreign terrorist organizations. In recent months, Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari has asked to hold a discussion in the Knesset in commemoration of Kahane, which Israel Radio commentator Moshe Negbi compared to a memorial session for a Hamas terrorist. In 1989, in response to the murder of Ziva Goldovsky “for nationalist reasons” by an Arab man during the First Intifada, Kahane wrote:
Let every Jewish parent remember the tragedy of this 18 year old Jewish child and look to their own. Those who love their children- know what the Arabs would do to them! See what the Arabs did to Ziva Goldovsky and know that this is what awaits our own. And look what the Jewish Left did to an 18 year old child, and make an oath never to let it happen to our own. Mapam Youth, Hashomer HaTzair, Ratz Youth, Habonim, Dror. These are the youth groups of the Left that destroy the Jewish soul on their way to murdering the Jewish body.
With such roots, it is not surprising that although — explicitly — the JDL renounces terrorism and felonious acts (along with racism), numerous arrests of their leaders and members strongly suggest otherwise.One such arrest clearly indicates their status as a terrorist organization: In December 2001, JDL Chairman Irv Rubin, 56, and member Earl Krugel, 59 were arrested for planning the bombing of the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles and the San Clemente office of freshman Congressional Representative Darrell Issa, R-California. The two plotters met repeatedly during October of that year to plan the attacks, and during one secretly audiotaped meeting, Krugel allegedly said that Arabs “need a wakeup call” and the JDL needed to do something to one of their “filthy” mosques. In 2002, Rubin – who had served as Chairman of the JDL since 1985 and had been arrested 40 times by his own count – committed suicide while in custody and in 2005, Krugel was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
In a 2004 Congressional testimony on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, John S. Pistole, Executive Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence unit of the FBI, listed the thwarted terrorist attack as one of the successes of his unit. This planned bombing was also described in a different FBI report, which called the JDL a “violent extremist Jewish organization.” Other FBI documents have simply labeled the JDL “a proscribed terrorist group.”
With such a track record, US counterterrorism authorities should be on high alert for an attempt by the JDL to become active on campuses and other public venues where their enemies may express unacceptable views. It would be extremely irresponsible and reckless for the US to ignore the possibility that JDL members will use violence or terror, as they have in the past. In Israel, Yigal Amir was publicly applauded by Kahane supporters for assassinating Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Israel has paid a high price for allowing these elements to grow in influence and numbers. Hopefully, official US silence on this issue is not a sign of complacency. If it is, Americans may soon pay its price.