Kahane sworn in at stormy Knesset session


JERUSALEM -- U.S.-born militant Rabbi Meir Kahane blew kisses at thousands of protesters Monday then improvised his own parliamentary oath and called an Arab delgate a 'PLO-nik' at the stormy swearing-in of Israel's 11th Knesset.

'I am ready to let these people demonstrate against Rabbi Kahane any place,' said Kahane, who won a Knesset seat in July 23 elections on a platform calling for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories.


'They are doing my work for me. They're helping to get me a second Knesset seat,' said the founder of the U.S.-based Jewish Defense League.

With no permanent government because of deadlocked elections, the Knesset recessed after the swearing-in of the 120 members until a government is formed either by Prime Minister-designate Shimon Peres or Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Kahane, 52, drove to the Knesset past a crowd of up to 3,000 people bearing placards declaring 'Fascism will not pass,' 'Kahane contradicts Judaism,' and 'Kahane equals racism.'

At one point, protesters pounded on his car. Kahane blew back kisses and once inside the Knesset building, the slightly built rabbi took his seat and began reading from a red-bound Jewish Bible using a pink carnation as a book mark.


Instead of saying 'I abide to undertake the law,' Kahane muttered the first few words and then added 'and I will guard your Torah (bible)' -- a passage from the book of Psalms.

Kahane was called to order three times by temporary speaker Josef Burg. 'You can cite passages but this is not the stage for it,' said Burg, also an ordained rabbi.

Burg said he was not sure if Kahane repeated the parliamentary oath but accepted Kahane's claim he had. Israel Radio said Kahane indeed took the oath which swears him to be faithful to the state and uphold its laws.

Another new Knesset member Mohammad Meari -- an Arab lawyer from the two-man joint Arab-Jewish Party which seeks a Palestinian state -- then asked to be represented in committees.

'Plo-nik,' Kahane chanted in ryhtmn and later mocked an Arab Communist Party delegate Tufik Zayad, mayor of Nazareth.

A Jewish Communist Charlie Biton then jumped up and hollered at Kahane 'You Nazi get out of here.'

There were no incidents as a crowd estimated by officials of the Committee Against Racism at between 2-3,000 lined the half mile route from Israel Museum to the Knesset.

'Arabs are human beings like us,' said 14-year Nashon Shahar when asked why he joined the protest. 'Kahane is a Nazi' he added.


The speakers at the protest represented the Labor Alignment, including Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek and members of left-wing parties.

'We should cut out the pioson in his mounth' said Modechai Virshubski of the Shinui (Change) party. 'He is a big danger now because he has a platform of the Knesset and immunity of the parliament to disseminate his racist theories and in this he has to be stopped.'

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