‘Blatant double standard’: US rabbis slam State Department’s attack on Ben-Gvir

“We can and should expect better from the U.S. Government and its officials,” said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of the Coalition for Jewish Values.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A 2,000-strong group of American rabbis called out the ‘double standard’ of the State Department Monday after its spokesman criticized Religious Zionist MK Itamar Ben-Gvir for speaking at a memorial for the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.

A former Knesset member, Kahane was assassinated in New York City by an Islamic terrorist in 1990. His political party, Kach, was later banned from the Knesset due to its anti-Arab positions.

“The bottom line is that Rabbi Kahane never murdered anyone, while the Palestinian Authority (PA), a union of terror organizations, instigates and lauds murders on a daily basis,” said Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) Israel Regional Vice President Rabbi Steven Pruzansky.

“The State Department is funding the PA’s ongoing support for terror while rushing to wrongly condemn Ben-Gvir for attending a memorial service for someone who died over three decades ago. This reflects both an egregious violation of American law and a blatant double standard…. We can and should expect better from the U.S. Government and its officials.”

The Taylor Force Act of 2018 conditions further aid to the PA, including the Gaza Strip, on “steps by the Palestinian Authority to end violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens.” According to a Washington Free Beacon report last month, quoting a non-public State Department report to Congress, the Biden administration has used various avenues to provide over half a billion dollars to the PA since April 2021, in effect bypassing the law.

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“Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent. There is no other word for it…. We remain concerned by the legacy of Kahane Chai and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists,”State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday regarding Ben-Gvir’s attendance at the memorial event.

Kahane advocated the expulsion of all Arabs who do not accept non-citizen status. He was  disqualified from running again by Israel’s Supreme Court due to “incitement to racism.”

The Jewish Defense League, founded by Kahane in 1968 to fight antisemitism in the U.S., was designated as a terrorist group by the FBI in 2001. It is largely considered inactive today.

CJV Rabbinic Circle Chair Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer noted that Ben-Gvir said in his speech that he no longer agreed with Kahane’s positions on the Arab population in Israel.

Ben-Gvir, who was roundly booed for that statement, explained that he had come “to honor a man who was murdered sanctifying God’s name, who worked for the cause of Soviet Jewry… who fought antisemitism in the United States and acted to legislate the death penalty for terrorists.”

“But more significantly,” Gordimer added, “if the United States Department of State were genuinely concerned with support for terrorism, it would not be enhancing its relationship with the Palestinian Authority, much less providing funding that ends up indirectly financing its infamous ‘Pay to Slay’ program.”

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The PA pays terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails a regular salary on a sliding scale, depending on the heinousness of their attacks and time spent in prison. If the terrorists were killed in the attacks, their families receive a monthly stipend. The average salary is far higher than what the average Palestinian earns, making it a motivator for the commitment of additional terror attacks.

Ben-Gvir fully supports the death penalty for terrorists and harsh measures against any terror enablers. As a partner of the Religious Zionism party that won 14 seats in the recent elections, he is demanding the Public Security ministry, which is in charge of the national police force.