Court upholds terrorist label for Zionist group

On October 17, a US federal appeals court upheld the US State Department's 2004 designation of Kahane Chai, an Israeli-based spin-off of US ultra-Zionist Rabbi Meir Kahane's Jewish Defence League (JDL), as a "foreign terrorist organisation".

The JDL was founded by Kahane in 1968, and was later categorised by the FBI as a "right-wing Jewish terrorist group". In the late 1960s, Kahane also founded the Kach political party in Israel.

Kach was disqualified from running candidates to the Israeli parliament in 1988 by the Israeli Supreme Court on the grounds that its principles were an "incitement to racism". Kach advocated the forcible expulsion of all Arabs, including Arabs with Israeli citizenship, from Israeli-controlled territory.

Following Kahane's assassination in New York in 1990, Kahane Chai ("Kahane Lives") broke away from Kach, but retained the same ultra-Zionist ideology.

Both Kach and Kahane Chai was banned in Israel in 1994 after one of Kahane's followers, Kach member Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians praying in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

In a 2003 letter to the US State Department, a lawyer for Kahane Chai, Samuel Abady, said it and its affiliates were "legitimate Jewish activist organizations", none of which "practices, supports or advocates terrorism".

The three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals, however, ruled that, from Israeli news reports, Kahane Chai "was known to approve of terrorist tactics, including the mass murder of Arab worshippers", had been "linked to a bombing of an Arab school" in East Jerusalem and was responsible for death threats against police officers investigating this second crime.

The court also ruled that the State Department was correct in designating the presently existing Kach movement as an alias for Kahane Chai.

Kach and Kahane Chai are part of the fanatical, messianic Jewish settler movement in Israel, with strongholds in the illegal Israeli settlements of Kiryat Arba (near Hebron) and Tapuach (near Nablus).

Kach and Kahane Chai, however, are just the latest in a long line ultra-Zionist terrorist groups that have existed since the beginning of the 20th century — starting with Brith Habirionim, which carried out a range of attacks on Jewish socialists and Arab Palestinians in Ottoman-controlled Palestine.

As Zionist colonisation of Palestinian land increased throughout the 1920s and 30s, a range of Zionist militias emerged. One of these was the Etzel (also know as the Irgun), which carried out more than 60 attacks on the Palestinian civilian population between 1936 and 1939.

The Irgun and the breakaway Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) were responsible for a range of terrorist attacks on British forces and Palestinian civilians. In July 1946, the Irgun carried out the Kind David Hotel bombing, causing the deaths of 91 Britons, Palestinians and Jews. Another 45 were injured.

On April 9, 1948, a combined force of Irgun and Stern Gang members massacred more than 100 Palestinian residents of the village of Deir Yassin. Most of those killed were women and children.

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