The JDL opposes what it considers
threats to the Jewish people, whether from Arabs, evangelizing Christians or pro-peace Jews. It claims about 13,000 members but some experts estimate there are only a few dozen active members.
"They're extremists. They really have been marginalized. None of the credible (Jewish) groups would have anything to do with these people," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism
at California State University, San Bernardino.
Originally formed by Meir Kahane to mount armed response to anti-Semitic acts in New York City, it gained notoriety when its members were linked to bombings, most of them aimed at Soviet targets in retaliation for the way that country treated its Jewish population.
The Jewish Defense League, also known as JDL, was established in 1968 for the declared purpose of protecting Jews by whatever means necessary in the face of what was seen by the groupís principals as their dire peril. The founder, national chairman and leader of the JDL was a then-38-year-old ordained rabbi from Brooklyn, New York, Meir Kahane, who, in 1990, was assassinated in New York by an Arab extremist.
In Rabbi Kahaneís gross distortion of the position of Jews in America, American Jews were living in a fiercely hostile society, facing much the same dangers as the Jews in Nazi Germany or those in Israel surrounded by 100-million Arab enemies. Rabbi Kahane believed that the major Jewish organizations in the United States had failed to protect America's Jews from anti-Semitism, which he saw as ''exploding'' all over the country. ''If I have succeeded in instilling fear in you,'' Rabbi Kahane said in the closing statement of his standard speech, "I consider this evening a success."
In fact, Kahane consistently preached a radical form of Jewish nationalism which reflected racism, violence and political extremism.
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