PODCAST: Does Kahanism expose what Israel tries to hide?

Kahanism reveals a larger, inconvenient truth about Israel’s very nature, says researcher Natasha Roth-Rowland.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, August 24, 1984. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Rabbi Meir Kahane, August 24, 1984. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Listen here: iTunes/Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify

When Meir Kahane, an extremist rabbi who advocated for Jewish supremacy through the use of violence, ran in Israel’s 1988 elections, the state’s Central Elections Committee barred his party, claiming it incited racism and threatened the democratic nature of the state. Similar to the fascist movements of 1930s Europe, Kahane envisioned a Jewish society that is ethnically and religiously “pure.”

Decades later, Kahanism is still viewed as radical in Israeli society. Otzma Yehudit, the political party formed by Kahane’s disciples, remains outside the halls of power — even with support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But according to +972 Magazine editor Natasha Roth-Rowland, who is a doctoral student researching the Jewish far right in Israel and the United States, Kahanism doesn’t even need a party for its extremist ideology to permeate Israeli society. “Since Kahane exploded onto the Israeli political scene, the entire spectrum of political discourse and political action has shifted vastly to the right in Israel society,” she says on The +972 Podcast.

Kahane managed to mainstream ideas that were previously outside the bounds of Israeli discourse, Roth-Rowland explains, like the mass expulsion of Palestinians and preventing marriages between Jews and non-Jews — particularly between Jewish women and Palestinian men. In February 1994, one of Kahane’s followers, Baruch Goldstein, killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

PODCAST: Does Kahanism expose what Israel tries to hide?
Natasha Roth-Rowland. (Shane Lin/CC 3.0)

“When you have a country that is founded through mass expulsion, through privileging of one ethnic group over another, and where those things lead to repeated wars and repeated violence and repeated dehumanization of the other, you have a fertile seedbed for the kinds of ideas that Kahane expressed to take root,” says Roth-Rowland.

“If you look at something like the Jewish Nation-State Law, that is absolutely informed by an idea of supremacism,” she continues. “Kahane could have written that law himself. But it wasn’t put forward by Kahanist parties, it was put forward by parties that, yes, are on the right, but we consider absolutely part of the Israeli mainstream and not at all extremist.”

In fact, Kahanism has become a tool for Israeli politicians and journalists, explains Roth-Rowland, by serving as a far right icon they can point to “when they’re trying to deny just how right wing the standard political culture here is.”

Subscribe here: iTunes/Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify

13 responses to “PODCAST: How BDS became such a big deal in American politics”

  1. Bruce Gould says:

    Around 33 minutes in the interviewer mentions a recent essay by Peter Beinart in the Forward, and I think it’s interesting and relevant to the podcast, which is very much about U.S. politics re Israel:


    The Real Reason So Many Republicans Love Israel? Their Own White Supremacy…. Republicans no longer talk about Israel like it’s a foreign country. They conflate love of Israel with love of America because they see Israel as a model for what they want America to be: An ethnic democracy…Israel is a Jewish state. Trump and many of his allies want America to be a white, Judeo-Christian state. Israel, despite its free elections and parliamentary institutions, structurally privileges one ethnic and religious group over others. That’s what many Republicans want here.

    • Nathanael says:

      Yep. The Republicans represent the toxic history of white supremacy in the US, so of course they support the white-supremacist government of Israel.

      Israel’s government copied its concentration camps, baby-stealing, its ghettos, the demand for “lebensraum”, and the terrorist campaigns of ethnic cleansing from the Nazis; Israel’s government copied the apartheid system from South Africa;..

      …but both South Africa and Nazi Germany copied the original system of white supremacy, and the theft of land, from the United States. The two original sins of the US were the theft of Native American lands and the enslavement of dark-skinned people; from these, the ideology of white supremacy was invented as an excuse.

      The white supremacists in the US supported Nazi Germany, and they supported apartheid South Africa, and they support Netenyahu’s Israel.

      On behalf of the United States, we Yankees apologize for our country having exported this toxic racist ideology all over the world. The US itself has gotten better over time — though we needed a giant civil war in 1860, and a New Deal in 1932, and a Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and we are still fighting the same fight. Germany seems to have recovered somewhat, though they had to lose a World War to do so. South Africa recovered peacefully, thanks to de Klerk. Meanwhile, Israel seems to actually be getting sicker.

  2. Ben says:

    The first major national organization in the U.S. to back BDS in the case of Israel/Palestine – The Green Party of the United States – with 300,000 members back in 2005: https://gpus.org/other/press/pr-national.php?ID=907

  3. Gabrielle Grossman says:

    BDS is NOT a boycott movement, as the one against the white South African government years ago. It is a movement designed to destroy Israel, masquerading as a boycott movement. Bargouti, the founder, is a terrorist who clearly states that Israel itself is illegal and should be violently destroyed. BDS is supported by Hamas, whose carter calls for the elimination of Israel and the killing of Jews. BDS is worse than anti-semitic; it wants to totally destroy the State and kill all it’s people.

    • Ben says:

      This is the standard, crafted right wing talking point you are regurgitating but the problem is that it is just not true. Peter Beinart explains:

      No, BDS Is Not Anti-Semitic, And Neither Is Ilhan Omar.
      Peter Beinart
      November 19, 2018

    • Bruce Gould says:

      @Gabrielle Grossman: I can’t find the place where Barghouti says Israel should be “violently destroyed”. Can you provide the source?

      Here’s a piece he wrote: https://www.thenation.com/article/bds-house-resolution-trump-squad-omar-aoc/

      “…I advocated for a single democratic state that recognizes and accepts Jewish Israelis as equal citizens and full partners in building and developing a new shared society, free from all colonial subjugation and racial discrimination and separating church and state.”

    • Ben says:

      Gabrielle, have you found the quote from Barghouti yet? One would think you’d have it at your fingertips and would be eager to share it.

      “The craft of lying and fabrication is an accepted operating method by radical nationalists for inventing a narrative that meets the needs of nationalist politics.”

      Israel’s Right Wing Is Worse Than Europe’s

    • Talkback says:

      South Africa under Apartheid shared the same view. That the boycott movement was an attempt to destroy the state although all it targeted was its racist regime.

      Barghouti never stated that Israel should be destroyed. He neither endorses the one nor two state solution. This is just a call for equality, freedom and justice. Regimes who cannot provide these priniciples shouldn’t even have a moral right to exist.

      I don’t sympathize with Hamsa, but there is nothing wrong about wanting to restore the unity of your country which means the elimination of a regime that is occupying it from your point of view. Establishing Israel was all about eliminating Palestine, politically and physically (more than 400 villages were destroyed and depopulated). And the Likud and other parties have the same maximalist view – I highly doubt that you haven’t. And Hamas’ obsolete charter (no Hamas member has ever refered to it) has two articles in which it claims that all three (abrahamitic) religions can only peacefully co-exist under the shadow of Islam. Article 6 and 31.

  4. itshak Gordine says:

    Fortunately, more and more states have understood the racist goal of this movement which is also increasingly poorly seen in several developed countries.

    • Ben says:

      “…the racist goal…”

      This would be like Donald Trump denouncing narcissists. A “so bad it’s good” advertisement for the reasons the Israeli state’s radical nationalist-religious backers resemble nothing so much as the zombie cult adherents of Scientology (an organized crime outfit masquerading as a religion).

    • Talkback says:

      Only real supremacism could come up with the perversion of truth that a call for justice, freedom and equality is racism.

      • itshak Gordine says:

        No, many governments of developed countries think like me. BDS is one of the many appearances of anti-Semitism. In general leftists do not like to hear that.

        • Ben says:

          Nope. ==>

          Friedman describes how, by rallying around a two-state solution, politicians have established a safe space where they can say they oppose the occupation while ignoring the facts. “It’s been a formula for not doing anything,” she says.
          “We’re in a political moment where using Israel to inoculate an illiberal agenda in the U.S. is very handy,” she later adds. What they call anti-BDS legislation at the state level “is not actually anti-BDS, it’s anti-boycotts and it’s anti-free speech, and it applies equally to settlements as it does to Israel, and it’s brazenly unconstitutional.”