Apostle of Genocide Rules Israel from the Grave

Cliff Conner

MEIR KAHANE, a fanatic ultrarightwing American-Israeli zealot, was assassinated more than thirty years ago, and yet his spirit is in full control of Israel’s genocidal onslaught against the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza. When he was alive, his racist and antidemocratic political movement, the Kach party, was banned in Israel and officially designated a terrorist organization, both in Israel and the United States.

Today his disciples and admirers are entrenched in the government of Israel and direct its political energy toward implementing ethnic cleansing policies. Their avowed goal is to eliminate the Palestinian population in its entirety from the territories claimed by Israel.

Four years ago, a headline in a mainstream Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, warned of the rise of this danger:

Why Racist Rabbi Meir Kahane Is Roiling Israeli Politics 30 Years After His Death

The article, discussing forthcoming Israeli elections, stated:

“The leader of the Kach party, which advocated for an Israel free of Arabs, was assassinated in 1990, but his extremist beliefs will likely be represented in the next Knesset due to a pact between two far-right parties.” (Haaretz, February 21, 2019).

More recent national elections in 2022 completed the Kahanist takeover. The leading candidate for Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, formed a coalition joining his Likud Party with the right-wing Jewish Power and Religious Zionism parties to control enough seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to form a government. A November 5, 2023, Haaretz editorial decried “the power and legitimacy enjoyed today, in Israel as a whole and in the government, by the Kahanist, messianic Jewish far right.”

The adjectives “right-wing” and “far right” are not mere epithets hurled at Netanyahu by his opponents; he himself described the formation of his coalition as “another significant step bringing us closer to forming a right-wing, nationalist government that will look out for all Israeli citizens” (Reuters, December 1, 2022). His choice of coalition partners makes clear that his definition of “Israeli citizens” excludes Palestinians.

Two of the political leaders with whom Netanyahu coalesced, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Yoel Smotrich, are well-known supporters of Kahane’s demand for the takeover of all Palestinian territories and the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel. A Jerusalem Post headline (October 27, 2022) declared:

Israel Elections: ‘Fascistic’ Smotrich, Ben-Gvir dangerous to Jewish state”

The accompanying article lamented:

“Elevating these heirs and disciples of Meir Kahane, who preached and practiced violence and hatred, will further alienate all but the most extreme among American Jewry and other friends of Israel.”

So, who are Ben-Gvir and Smotrich? The 2022 Jerusalem Post article identifies their Religious Zionism party as “fascistic forces” and “an anti-secular, anti-Arab, anti-democratic alliance.”


Just before the November 2022 elections, Yaakov Katz, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, issued a powerful warning about the potential danger Itamar Ben-Gvir represented, and described him as “the modern Israeli version of an American white supremacist and a European fascist.” If Ben-Gvir

“gets his way—and Netanyahu gets his 61 seats—these two men will have the ability to demolish the country as we know it. . . . with a Netanyahu government completely dependent on Ben-Gvir, the Likud later will have no choice but to capitulate to the extremist’s every demand.”

“A government with Ben-Gvir in it,” Katz concluded, “will take on the contours of a fascist state. Some friends and friendly governments around the world are quietly conveying this warning. Sadly, no one is listening.”

Ben-Gvir’s reward for joining Netanyahu’s coalition was the post of Minister of National Security, “a newly created portfolio with powers over police in Israel and the West Bank” (Reuters, December 1, 2022).


Bezalel Smotrich, who proudly calls himself a “homophobic fascist,” was given the powerful position of Minister of Finance in Netanyahu’s cabinet, as well as a sui generis post in the Ministry of Defense, which, as The Times of Israel describes it, “confers upon Smotrich what amounts to the prime ministership of the West Bank” (December 8, 2022). A Le Monde article further explains:

“A religious fundamentalist and known arsonist is taking up residence on the 14th floor of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Appointed at the end of February to the tailor-made post of “minister within the ministry,” Bezalel Smotrich is set to become a de facto governor of the West Bank. As such, he has authority over the “Civil Administration”—in reality a military body—that manages the day-to-day occupation of the Palestinian territories. . . .

“As finance minister, 43-year-old Smotrich caused a stir in the country on March 1. As soon as he took up his new post, he called for the Israeli army to commit ethnic cleansing by “razing” the Palestinian village of Huwara.

“I am a homophobic fascist, but I am a man of my word.” That was how he talked about himself in a private conversation, a recording of which was broadcast by the public channel Kan in January. A Jewish supremacist and racist, Smotrich dreams of a theocratic state subject to religious law, a state that he would like to see extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, over the entire Holy Land. . . . He now has the means to implement a part of that plan.” (Le Monde, March 9, 2023)

Meir Kahane has not risen from the grave, but his political influence and power are far greater in Israel today than they ever were when he was alive.

November 6, 2023


  1. I think you’re totally right that there has clearly been a rise of fascism in Israel, and your portrait of these monsters is a good reminder for casual observers who do not know Israeli politics. For me though, my question is more about why it’s only the past 30 years that the extreme-right took hold of power? Zionism has always been a fascist ideology (creation of a religious-ethno-nationalist state); the Balfour Declaration already contained genocidal intent. In a sense, today’s Israeli fascists are just repeating the same words from Zionist leaders of the late 19th century. And the deeds of today are basically accelerated and more intense versions of the same sorts: Beiruit 1972, 1982, Gaza 2006, etc etc. So my question is really, what was holding fascism back (even just a little) in the preceding decades that allowed some dialogue and compromises like the Oslo Accords? Was it the position of neighboring Arab states? US public opinion? Economic growth that enabled a more metropolitan liberal Zionist social stratum who opted for slow violence of apartheid rather than outward aggression?

    1. It is helpful to approach your question in two ways. First, as it relates to the fundamental, unchanging essence of the Zionist project, which indeed can be summed up in three words: colonialism, racism, and violence. Second, as it relates to Zionism as a social phenomenon, which as Marxists would point out, cannot be understood without taking its historical development into account—from its origin in 19th-century Europe, to the creation of Israel in 1948, to today.

      In 1948 Zionism transitioned from an abstract program to “the word made flesh” with the birth of the Israeli settler-state. Its colonialist nature was reinforced when the midwife, British imperialism, handed it over to American imperialism in loco parentis. The Zionist ideologues and political leaders proclaimed Israel “a land without people for a people without land,” but in fact they found themselves locked in struggle against the resistance of a determined indigenous population.

      Marxists and other empathetic social commentators predicted that over time this clash would result in ever-deepening crisis and relentlessly bend the arc of Zionist history toward antidemocratic and violent reaction. Zionism’s most extreme proponents agreed; Meir Kahane proclaimed, “Democracy and Zionism cannot go together,” and today Kahane’s disciples hold decisive positions in the Israeli government.

      Since 1948 Israel has been steadily advancing toward its “manifest destiny” of open genocide against the Palestinians, and now we are witnessing a brutal ethnic cleansing of Gaza on an unprecedented scale.

    2. It isn’t really helpful to use the term “fascist” too loosely. The Zionist movement pre-dated the emergence of fascist ideology in Europe. Zionism is a reactionary nationalist ideology with many peculiar features, but not inherently totalitarian as fascism is. While forced population removal (ethnic cleansing) was always incipient in the process of Zionist colonization in Palestine, the particular ways in which it has proceeded were not historically inevitable. Right now, the physical destruction and genocide of Gaza is driven by the squalid and sordid attempt of Netanyahu to save his discredited government coalition from the consequences of its catastrophic failures. And this Israeli government, with its brutal and racist character, is not “fascist” although it includes fascist coalition partners (the Jewish Power and Religious Zionism parties) and the war is likely to make those forces stronger.

      1. I agree completely that “it isn’t really helpful to use the term ‘fascist’ too loosely.” I want to point out that I didn’t use it myself in this article, but it does appear in quotations from the Jerusalem Post and Le Monde, and one of the quotations was from Smotrich, describing himself—perhaps ironically, but still . . .

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