Meir Kahane Assassinated Kahana pictured in New York, August 1984. Photo/JTA-Gene Kappock-NY Daily News Archive

November 5, 1990

Israeli politician Rabbi Meir Kahane, 58, is fatally shot by Egyptian-American El Sayyid Nosair in a Manhattan hotel where Kahane is addressing a crowd of mostly Orthodox Jews.

Kahane was elected to the Knesset in 1984 as the head of the Kach party. After the Knesset enacted a Basic Law in 1985 that banned the participation of political parties inciting racism, Kach was barred from running in the 1988 election for being “racist,” “Nazi-like” and “undemocratic.” Kahane compared Arabs to dogs and told supporters that he didn’t “want to kill Arabs; I just want them to live happily elsewhere.”

Kahane, born in August 1932 in New York, was part of Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth group, and attended Brooklyn College. He was ordained in 1957 after studying at the Mirrer Yeshiva and led a congregation in Queens until 1960.

In 1968 the rabbi founded the Jewish Defense League, a militant group defying stereotypes of Jewish victimhood. The organization’s “anti-mugger” patrols escorted Jewish teachers through historically black neighborhoods with baseball bats. While the group taught rabbinical students karate and riflery and demonstrated for better treatment of Soviet Jews, it also bombed Soviet offices in the United States.

Kahane was convicted of conspiring to make bombs and given a suspended five-year prison sentence in 1971, the same year he moved to Israel and founded Kach. He later served a year for violating his probation.