Jewish Defense League

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The Jewish Defense League (JDL) is an anti-Arab, Islamophobic, Zionist Jewish extremist organization classified by the FBI as a terrorist group.[1][2] The JDL was founded and largely led by the militant leader Meir Kahane, who played an active part in his group's actions.[3]

The FBI describes them as "Jewish-American extremists who consider themselves to be a front line of defense against anti-Semitism…"[4]:16 The Anti-Defamation League has also referred to the JDL as "thugs and hooligans".[5]


JDL activities consisted of forcefully occupying offices, spray-painting Hebrew slogans proclaiming “the Jewish nation lives”, disrupting meetings as well as intimidation, bombings, and shootings against their opponents.[6][7] The JDL were suspected by the FBI of killing Alex Odeh (and injuring many others), a Palestinian activist against discrimination.[8][9] A JDL spokesman declared that Odeh "got exactly what he deserved."[10] Robert Manning, a JDL member,[11][12][13] and others were convicted.[14]

Meir Kahane[edit]

Meir David HaKohen Kahane (1932–1990) was an Israeli-American orthodox rabbi and politician whose ideology, Kahanism, emphasized ultranationalism and religious Zionism. Alongside the JDL, he also founded the Kach partyWikipedia while living in Israel, a far-right ultranationalist political group whose open racism and advocacy of violence against non-Jews led to its electoral ban. He was assassinated in 1990 while giving a speech to an audience of Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn, warning them to flee to Israel before it was "too late".[15][16][17][18]

During the mid-1960s, Kahane was a member of the John Birch Society under the pseudonym "Michael King".[19]:279,349n19

Baruch Goldstein[edit]

Baruch Kopel Goldstein (1956–1994), a member of the JDL who shot dead 29 Palestinian Muslims, was hailed as a luminary by the French JDL.[20][21][22] As if this wasn't enough, Baruch was turned into what would qualify as a folk hero among not only the JDL but other militant Jews.[23] Following the murders, the Kach group and its offshoots were designated as terrorist groups in Israel and subsequently banned.

Irv Rubin[edit]

Kahane's successor Irving David Rubin (1945–2002) reduced the JDL into more of an organized crime group, including the trafficking of women and car parts, and running protection rackets against prominent rappers such as Tupac Shakur[24]. Rubin was also known for an on-screen brawl on the Jerry Springer Show, where he and fellow JDL members faced off against Ku Klux Klan members, after one Klansman mocked Rubin by wearing a kippah under his Klan hood. Rubin was eventually brought down when two of his associates were caught by the FBI trying to organize terrorist attacks against a Californian mosque and the office of Lebanese-American Congressional representative Darrell Issa (a Christian). Rubin committed suicide in prison while awaiting trial.

See also[edit]


  4. FBI Analysis of Terrorist Incidents and Terrorist Related Activities in the United States, 1985 (1985) The Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  5. Bohn, Michael K. The Achille Lauro Hijacking. 2004, pp. 176–7
  12. under the "Kahane became an outspoken advocate for the 'transfer' of all Palestinians" section
  15. Specter, Michael (November 6, 1990). "Jewish Leader Kahane Slain in New York". The Washington Post
  17. Juergensmeyer, Mark (2003). Terror in the Mind of God. University of California Press. page 59
  18. Katz, Samuel M. "Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the manhunt for the al-Qaeda terrorists", 2002
  19. Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right by Matthew Dallek (2023) Basic Books. ISBN 1541673565.
  24. "FBI Files on Tupac Shakur Murder show he received Death Threats from Jewish Gang". Haaretz. April 14, 2011.