Photo Credit: Yehuda Perl, HaKol HaYehudi
Meir Ettinger

Meir Ettinger – a grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane, Hy”d – has been tagged by the Israeli establishment as a religious ultra-nationalist and head of a Jewish terrorist gang that has never been named (and which Ettinger maintains doesn’t exist).

After the fatal torching of an Arab home in the village of Duma in 2015, Ettinger – then 23 – was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for 10 months before being released without being charged. Banned from entering Judea and Samaria for “being a danger to peace,” he now lives with his wife and son in Beit Shemesh.


The Jewish Press recently spoke to him about a recent op-ed he wrote in Hebrew opposing the Trump administration’s peace plan, which is set to be unveiled after Israel’s elections on April 9.

The Jewish Press: Considering President Trump’s staunch support for Israel, won’t his deal favor the Jewish state? Why are you attacking it?

Ettinger: In order for the plan to have any chance of being accepted by the Arabs, it will have to include territorial concessions, an economic pay-off, connecting the Arab population of Gaza with that of Judea and Samaria, and the framework of a future Palestinian state.

Still, why not wait until the plan is revealed before attacking it?

We have to prepare now…. Over the last decade, the political Right has succeeded in silencing talk of further settlement evacuations and seemingly buried the dream of a two-state solution, but it has failed to put the goal of “Greater Eretz Yisrael” on the national agenda, and it has totally forgotten about returning to Shechem, Jenin, and Jericho – let alone Gush Katif – thus accepting the tenets of the Oslo Accord as tablets forged in heaven.

When the country’s leaders don’t foster an ardent love for the entire homeland, a lack of passion develops – even among settlers – toward problematic places like Shechem and Jenin, along with a willingness to surrender them to the Arabs.

How do we prevent that?

There is only one way. We have to act now to expand the borders of every yishuv and to establish new ones wherever we can – on every hilltop – while at the same time educating the nation about the supreme importance of keeping the entire Land of Israel under Jewish control.

We have to create more and more facts on the ground while bringing massive numbers of visitors and new residents to the length and breadth of the land in order to reawaken our love for our homeland and our yearning for its redemption in all of its biblical borders.

The more Jews reside in the settlements, the more difficult it is to evacuate them.

Hysteria has broken out recently over the merger between The Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit. What’s your reaction?

It’s “make-believe hysteria” – part of a political struggle where all sides try to paint the other as extremists. The people who champion leftist ideology don’t differentiate between The Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit. To them, both rightest parties are racist.

Your grandmother, Rebbetzin Kahane, recently told The Jewish Press that she regrets the falsehoods the leftist media disseminate about your grandfather. Why do so many people distort his ideas?

The Zionist movement was founded on a basic flaw. On the one hand, Zionist leaders championed a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. In the same breadth, they identified themselves with Western principles of democracy where everyone is considered equal.

Rav Kahane explained that these contradict one another, and he emphasized the necessity of being loyal to our own Jewish roots and identity as the foundation for a true Jewish state – a medinat Yehudit in contrast to a medinat Yisrael. He wanted us to understand who we really are and to take the steps necessary to insure that the state remained Jewish rather than becoming a battleground of conflicting cultures and national aspirations.

Again and again on the floor of the Knesset, he pointed out that democracy could lead to an Arab majority in the country and an Arab prime minister. All of the lovers of democracy in the Knesset – on the Left and Right – blacklisted him for that because it exposed the national schizophrenia upon which this country is based.

It’s ironic that it was the champions of democracy who banned your grandfather and his Kach Party for his political ideology.

It wasn’t only his political ideology they sought to stamp out. Rabbi Kahane’s message called upon every Jew to internalize his Jewishness and his mission in the world. This is a difficult challenge since it demands that a Jew choose to be a Jew first and not adopt the ways of the nations – just as it is difficult for a person to give up his temptations and passions and cling to the Torah and its commandments.

Some people insist that after your grandfather entered the Knesset, he would have achieved greater results if he had played along with the political game and hidden some of his more strident beliefs.

I don’t believe that hiding the truth brings true benefit in its wake. The Gemara says “there is a short way that is long.” At the beginning, the shortcut seems to save time, but it can end up distancing you from reaching the goal. The way of truth is “the long way that is short.” It seems like a lengthy process in the beginning, but, when all is said and done, it proves to be the most effective path.

You have said in the past that you are not cut out for politics, but isn’t being a member of the government the best way to effect change?

If being in the government means not speaking the truth and throwing dust in the eyes of the public, then this is not a course that can lead to real change. Today, education and outreach play an important role in edifying the nation. We have seen, time and again, how social activism and grassroots groups lobbying for social change can have a greater national impact than politicians.

If Rabbi Kahane were alive today, and still outlawed from the Knesset, which party do you think he would vote for in the upcoming election?

I don’t know, but I am sure he would invest great energy to create a public movement, beyond the realm of politics, that would foster a revolution in Jewish thinking.

What do you mean?

Just like we are witnessing today a great wave of [personal] teshuvah, where more and more people are returning to Torah and mitzvah observance, we need a political and cultural teshuvah that will alter the essence of the state by infusing it with its true Torah soul.

Clarifying the meaning and purpose of a Jewish state in the world will require strength and steadfastness, and the willingness to sacrifice – similar to the miserut nefesh that characterized the Zionist enterprise leading to the establishment of Israel.


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Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" The DVD of the movie is available online.