If Arabs will not leave Israel willingly, "I'll throw them out," Rabbi Meir Kahane told several hundred cheering supporters Tuesday night at the Century Plaza.
"I don't intend to sit quietly by while Arabs intend to liquidate my state--either by bullets or by having babies," said the Jewish Defense League founder. His Los Angeles appearance brought protests from 11 Jewish organizations.
During the evening, about 150 demonstrators held a silent protest vigil by candlelight across the street from the hotel.
The American-born Kahane, 53, who is now a member of the Israeli parliament, has repeatedly called for expulsion of all Arabs from Israel, calling them "dogs."
"It's important that you (the audience) know what the name 'Kahane' means to the Arabs," he said Tuesday night. "It means terror. They're afraid--and that's the only language they understand."
American Wing of Party
Kahane's Los Angeles appearance was sponsored by Kach International, the American wing of his political party in Israel. He said he believes the party is growing in power, and may one day be able to play a decisive role in the political life of that nation.
"Sometime in the next four years," he said, "the Arab will turn on his radio and hear that Kahane is prime minister. Can you imagine what that will mean?
"They will leave. . . . They'll beg me to let them go. . . ."
Anti-Kahane demonstrators across the street avoided contact with those who had come to hear the speech, but they were not reluctant to state their views. Yosef Khen, spokesman for Jews United for Peace and Justice called Kahane's proposals "a policy of genocide" and compared them to the genocidal programs of Nazi Germany.
Kahane's speech drew an overflow crowd, and security was tight: All spectators were required to undergo a body search before being allowed to enter the Westside Room, which holds only about 300 people. And when it was full the doors were locked--leaving almost as many people outside as inside. But those left outside remained friendly to the controversial leader.
'Reaction to ... Murders'
"Meir Kahane is a reaction to the wanton murders of innocent men, women and children in Israel," said Beverly Schechet, who waited patiently for a glimpse of Kahane. "To brand him a monster, a butcher, is ridiculous. . . ."
Less committed--but still friendly--was teacher Mildred Peskin of Los Angeles. "I don't necessarily endorse his views," she said. "But I still would like to hear his opinions."
Los Angeles secretary Marilyn Brooks was more specific.
"I endorse his view of getting rid of Arabs from Israel," she said. "Arabs have caused too many problems for Israel--and there is no parallel between that and Nazi Germany."
This was an apparent response to a prepared statement from 11 Jewish organizations who jointly condemned Kahane's call for expulsion of Arabs from Israel, saying that the JDL founder's "words and actions are alien to the precepts of Judaism. . . . We reject this affront to our history, to our tradition and beliefs, and to our own tenacious commitment to pluralism and peace."
'Moral Imperative to Speak'
The signatories said they were aware that their statement "may lend greater importance to the Kahane phenomenon than it deserves. Yet, our concern is mitigated by the moral imperative to speak forthrightly to our collective constituency and to all Americans, making clear our total and unequivocal rejection of violence, racism, demagoguery and hate mongering."
Included among those groups signing the statement were the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the Commmunity Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles and the Jewish War Veterans.
In a separate statement, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said Kahane, early in his career, "took up the legitimate cause of Jewish self defense in urban areas of the U.S. and later made a significant contribution to the issue of Soviet Jews."
But the center went on to deplore Kahane's "violent tactics and his recent behavior as head of the Kach Party in Israel. . . . To implore that a modern Jewish state physically expel peaceful members of a minority is legally unjustified and morally abhorrent."
Kahane, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., was stripped of U.S. citizenship earlier this month on grounds that he had served in the Israeli armed forces and was a member of that nation's parliament, the Knesset. Kahane has requested an injunction which would set aside the Department of State action, but a federal judge in New York delayed a ruling.