US State Department spokesman Ned Price has denounced the appearance of Israeli Knesset Member, Itamar Ben Gvir, as “abhorrent” for attending the memorial of Rabbi Meir Kahane. The American born ultra-nationalist Israeli politician, openly advocated expelling all Palestinians from historic Palestine between the river and the sea – what he called “the Land of Israel”.
Kahane founded the Kach party which was later outlawed. The controversial rabbi, however, remains a revered figure. He inspired the likes of Rabbi Baruch Goldstein who in 1994 killed 29 Muslim worshippers at the Israeli occupied Ibrahimi Mosque and wounded more than 125.
A former member of the Kach movement, Ben Gvir and the coalition of ultra-nationalist parties have emerged as the main power broker in Israel following last week’s election, wining 14 seats. The 46-year-old is expected to also be given an important ministerial position.
Denouncing Ben Gvir’s attendance at the annual Kahane memorial, Price said: “Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent. We are concerned by the use of Kahana’s legacy and rhetoric by extremist and violent right wing activists.”
“There is no other word for it – it is abhorrent. And we remain concerned, as we’ve said before, by the legacy of Kahane Chai and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists,” Price said, adding that Washington has listed the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization.
Before the memorial Ben-Gvir tweeted that his participation was in recognition of Kahane’s “love of Israel” and “fight for Soviet Jewry and against anti-Semitism.” He was cheered when he repeated his election pledge to deport “terrorists” – a term he has applied to Palestinian stone-throwers, as well as to some representatives of Israel’s 21 Palestinian Arab minority.