Not to be confused with the Anti-Defamation League, the JDL was founded by Meir Kahane, a New York Orthodox rabbi who went on to become a Knesset member in 1984. His party was later outlawed by Israel for advocating the kinds of things that modern Israeli right-wingers only talk about doing on days that end in “y.”
Kahane was assassinated on a trip to New York but his legacy lives on. In Israel his spiritual descendants populate many positions on the right. In America the JDL, with its legacy of extremism and terrorism, feels that with Trump in office it has a new lease on life.
This week JDL leaders held an event to both commemorate the death of Kahane and celebrate Trump’s election. As reported in Haaretz:
Jonathan Stern, another organizer of the event, told Haaretz he saw Trump’s election as a perfect occasion to reinvigorate the Kahane movement, which he sees as part of the global trend: the rise of the extreme right in France and other countries in Europe, and now in the United States.
“Our movement is part of the Trump movement,” Stern said
But even as horrible as Kahane and the JDL were and are, you would expect that they would at least stand up against virulent self-declared antisemites, right? Like the neo-Nazis who are planning to march against the Jewish community of Whitefish, Montana?
You would be wrong!
The JDL is every bit the fascist and racist organization that it’s always been and now its fascism and racism comes with a generous dollop of support for neo-Nazis! As reported in the Forward:
Supporters of the far-right Jewish Defense League, an extremist group angling for a resurgence in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, say they are sympathetic to the white nationalism of the “alt-right” — and have no plans to push back against an anti-Jewish march planned in Whitefish, Montana by a neo-Nazi.
At a New York event for the late JDL leader Meir Kahane, organizer Jonathan Stern told Haaretz that “alt-right” figurehead Richard Spencer was “a white nationalist who stands up for white people and there is nothing wrong with that.”
But I’m not supposed to point any of this out, of course, because why would we ever see connections among white supremacists, right-wing Zionists, and Trump? Unthinkable. I must be making it up, self-hating Jew that I am.
But here’s the thing. I’m not making this up. I don’t have a good enough imagination to even think of something like this.