Dr. Dawg

JDL-Canada: an historical echo

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History doesn’t repeat itself, exactly: rather, it’s a rag-bag of memes, of resemblances, of familiar stories re-told.

The Jewish Defence League in Canada is a case in point. It resonates with history, and it tells a tale we’ve already heard.

A little background, first. JDL-Canada has has tried to distance itself from the Jewish Defence League elsewhere, but it’s a branch-plant operation. The JDL has been deemed a terrorist organization by the FBI. Its founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, was the leader of the Kach party in Israel: the latter, along with its successor Kahane Chai (Kahane Lives), are considered “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” by the US, and appear on Canada’s list of banned terrorist organizations as well. They’re banned in Israel, too, following Kachist Baruch Goldstein’s mass-murder of 29 Palestinians at prayer.

After the Palestinians were murdered, this is what JDL-Canada head honcho Meir Weinstein had to say:

“[O]ur organization does not condemn the attack. It condemns the Israeli government for not providing adequate protection for settlers.”

His parent organization is even more unabashed:

Goldstein took a preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews. We understand his motivation, his grief and his actions. We do not consider his assault to qualify under the label of terrorism because Dr. Goldstein was a soldier in a war zone who was faced by an imminent terrorist threat. We teach that violence is never a good solution but is unfortunately sometimes necessary as a last resort when innocent lives are threatened; we therefore view Dr. Goldstein as a martyr in Judaism’s protracted struggle against Arab terrorism. And we will never be ashamed to say that Goldstein was a charter member of the Jewish Defense League.

JDL-Canada celebrates the legacy of Meir Kahane. What legacy is that? Well, let the man speak for himself, and be sensitive to the resonances:

“Western democracy [in Israel] has to be ruled out. For me that’s cut and dried: there’s no question of setting up democracy in Israel, because democracy means equal rights for all, irrespective of racial or religious origins.”

Anti-democratic, racist, a promoter of violence—one is struck by certain of those historic similarities I noted above, as though they are reflected in a mirror. Here’s a gesture I seemed to recognize:


Ah, now I remember:

Hitler gesture.jpg

Coincidence, or ironic, self-conscious modelling? Or simple mimicry, all irony absent? The slogan seemed familiar, as well. I’d heard something like it in the 1960s, and it’s still current if Google is any guide:


Canada’s far-right-wingers love the JDL. They were on board with crashing a December 6 commemoration in Toronto of the Montreal Massacre, using it as an occasion to drool hatred of Muslims. The JDL and its allies have marched in support of the extreme-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, and vigorously defended the neo-Nazi English Defence League.

The usual political strange bedfellows? Perhaps. Even stranger, however, when they turn out to be—yourself.

[H/t you know who you are, b/c]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on December 7, 2011 11:37 AM.

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