Kahane in america: An exercise in right-wing urban terror

Judith Tydor Baumel

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10 Scopus citations


This article critically analyzes the activities of Rabbi Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League (JDL) during their formative stage in the United States (1968-1972) in order to examine whether it fits the description of an American “terrorist” group during a particular period, a notion which the American Jewish establishment attempted to project to the general public. My underlying hypothesis views Kahane and the JDL as boundary-crossers: using tactics from the two major forms of terrorism which manifested themselves in the United States during the late 1960s and 1970s. One type of terrorist group was an outgrowth of the cultural, political, and economic marginalism of an ethnic group, such as Americans of color, who adopted violent tactics in order to better their status in the United States. The second were the social and ideological protest groups who turned violent (such as the Weathermen) in an attempt to change an American political orientation, either foreign or domestic. Falling into neither of these categories, Kahane created a hybrid terror organization which mobilized an American-born ethnic constituency in order to better the status of their coreligionists elsewhere-in this case, those in the Soviet Union. Consequently, the JDL was the only organization in the U.S. during the period being examined which espoused employing violent tactics on American soil in order to achieve aims for members of what they considered to be their extended ethnic group abroad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-329
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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