Q. Do I have to be Orthodox to join JDL? Are Conservative and Reform Jews welcome to join JDL? Do I even have to be Jewish? (Recently Updated)A. The Jewish Defense League does not believe in "hypenated Jews": A Jew is a Jew to us. Our membership reflects this philosophy, running the gamut from the completely secular to the Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar). While our ideology promotes the Torah approach to Judaism and is most well aligned with "Orthodox" Judaism, Reform, Conservative and religiously-unaffiliated Jews are well represented within JDL ranks. JDL membership is open to anyone - including the non-Jew - who believes in our cause and is willing to defend Jews and Judaism, which includes Jewish rights, honor, property and institutions.
Q. How do you write "Jewish Defense League" in Hebrew?A. The name of the Jewish Defense League in Hebrew is הליגה להגנה יהודית (transliterated, HaLiga L'Hagana Yehudit).
Q. Why has JDL received so much criticism in the past?A. We get criticized all the time, but are much too busy helping the Jewish People to waste time on trivial personalities and trivial matters. When you walk down the street and a dog barks at you, you don't bark back at it. We do appreciate criticism, however, coming from the "Jewish Establishment," which did absolutely nothing to save Six Million European Jews. (We strongly encourage those who don't know the history of the Establishment during the Holocaust to read the book While Six Million Died by Arthur Morse.) This same establishment did nothing about Soviet Jews, Ethiopian Jews or any other beleaguered Jews in our time; only when it became fashionable did Federation Jews get involved. It was JDL that brought the issue of Soviet Jews to the front page of the Anglo press. Until then, nobody knew about the 2.5 million Jews dying a spiritual death there; after JDL was done with its campaign the gates were opened for Soviet Jewry to emigrate. Many people disliked the views and tactics taught by Rabbi Kahane, but his ideology is being vindicated with every passing day.
An increasing number of formerly crticial people are to starting to concede that JDL's positions are sensible and difficult to argue against. Of course, it is true that there have been some controversies in the past in which certain members got into trouble, and there have also been some dangerous baseless acusations made against the League in the past (including the malicious prosecution and subsequent wrongful death of our late chairman Irv Rubin, ז״ל הי״ד), but JDL has a strict no tolerance policy on even the mere suggestion of felonious activity that it enforces to protect everyone involved.
Q. What good things does JDL do that nobody ever hears about?A. Lots of what we do never gets reported. Nobody likes good news, do they? Walking elderly Jews to synagogue, collecting money and food for poor Jews, settling neighborhood problems, Jewish educational programs and so on and so on -- no one ever hears about these JDL activities unless we publicize them ourselves, which we don't always do. That's okay; we do them anyway. Often, disputes between individuals or moronic policies by corporations have been settled by JDL with single phone calls. In some situations the people JDL assists don't want to publicize their stories, and we respect those requests. Over the last year (2010-2011), a JDL leader has generously extended his time and personal resources to help a downtrodden, psychologically impaired Jewish woman who has been on the receiving end of an onslaught from corrupt animal rights officials. Smaller tasks that JDL performs every day aren't necessarily news-worthy, but they make the difference to those who are helped.
Q. Does JDL hold racist views toward any group?Absolutely, unequivocally, no–JDL is not a racist or bigoted organization in any way. Although we sometimes are required to speak in unambiguous terms about racial, ethnic and religious conflicts various groups are engaged in with Jews, JDL judges the conduct of people individually and without regard to any category they may fall under. And while JDL's primary mission is to defend Am Yisrael, we extend support to non-Jews as well; JDL helps decent people in distress of all races, ethnicities and religions.
Q. How does JDL feel about Yigal Amir, the alleged assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin?A. We feel that Yigal Amir wasted his precious life. However, we have now included the "alleged" qualifier with this answer because since our original answer was published substantial additional evidence came to light indicating the assassination may have been a conspiracy and Amir the Israeli government's patsy. But assuming Amir was legitimately guilty of the assasination, taking the life of Rabin was not worth Amir spending the rest of his life in an Israeli prison. The Israeli people would have taken Rabin out of office. While we were and remain ideologically opposed to Rabin and the false peace process he foisted on Israel, we believe ballots, not bullets, would have been the only correct way to deal with him. And even though Rabin was responsible for the murder of 18 precious Jewish souls aboard the Irgun ship the Altalena, his assassination was nonetheless wrong and counter-productive. Rabin's murder gave leftist Jews in Israel (as well as leftists in general) a martyr, a hero, and a weapon to use in furthering Rabin's political agenda (the false peace process) against Israel's best interests, all of which they do not deserve. Today even many right-wing Israelis treat Rabin with great reverence, treatment he would not have received if he had served out his term and died years later from natural causes. That would have allowed him to witness the horrific effects of his woefully misguided attempt at peace and would have given Israelis the chance to view his record more objectively.
Q. How does JDL feel about Dr. Boruch Goldstein?A. Dr. Goldstein was a brilliant surgeon, a mild-mannered Yeshiva-educated man who was promoted to the rank of major in the IDF. He was warned by his superiors in the military to prepare an open field hospital in anticipation of another murderous attack by the hostile Arab population of Hevron during the Jewish festival of Purim. Many of these Arabs were standing outside Goldstein's synagogue in the Cave of the Patriarchs and yelling "Slaughter the Jew." Goldstein had lost 30 close friends in the last few years; they were murdered by Arabs in the Hevron-Kiryat Arba area. One of those was the son of his best friend, Mordechai Lapid; as Goldstein rushed to give the young man medical aid, he was held back by the Arabs on the scene and the young man died. Additionally, as there is proof that the Arabs were hoarding food and supplies in response to a Muslim call for a massacre on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we feel that Goldstein took a preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews. We understand his motivation, his grief and his actions. We do not consider his assault to qualify under the label of terrorism because Dr. Goldstein was a soldier in a war zone who was faced by an imminent terrorist threat. We teach that violence is never a good solution but is unfortunately sometimes necessary as a last resort when innocent lives are threatened; we therefore view Dr. Goldstein as a martyr in Judaism's protracted struggle against Arab terrorism. And we will never be ashamed to say that Goldstein was a charter member of the Jewish Defense League.
Q. How has JDL viewed offers from notorious Jew-haters like Louis Farrakhan to discuss their differences with Jewish leaders?A. As far as JDL is concerned, there is no common ground for discussion with those individuals. Years ago, Louis Farrakhan extended an invitation to Jewish leaders to have a discussion with him. As one would expect, those establishment Jewish leaders accepted the invitation and found themselves dismayed with the outcome. Even Edgar Bronfman, famed Canadian Jewish liberal, said he regretted his meeting with Farrakhan. High-profile Jew-haters will most likely not be changed one iota by attempts at dialog with them. Some ignorant Jew-haters can be convinced to change their opinions if they are shown overwhelming evidence against their positions, but the worst among them are too deeply invested in hatred to change their ways so easily.
Q. Why didn't the JDL condemn the 1985 murder of Alex Odeh, director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee? Did JDL have anything to do with the bombing that killed him?A. It is true that JDL International Chairman Irv Rubin, HY"D, publicly stated that Odeh "got what he deserved" in the bombing of the ADC offices in Santa Ana, California. He also said, "I'm not crying over the death of Alex Odeh. My tear ducts are dry. My tears were used up crying for Leon Klinghoffer." Rubin made these passionate statements after observing Odeh on television less than 24 hours before his death on the local ABC news whitewashing the PLO's involvement in the death of the wheelchair-bound Klinghoffer on the hijacked cruise ship Achille Lauro. Odeh praised the PLO and called Arafat a man of peace. JDL believes–and there is no information to the contrary–that Odeh was murdered by his own people, probably Hamas, who believed Odeh to be too moderate.
Q. Why did the murderer of Rabbi Meir Kahane - El Sayyid Nosair - get off?A. Although Nosair was acquitted by a "Third World" New York State Court Jury - every Jew who was a possible juror was summarily disqualified by the defense attorneys - he was found guilty of murder by a federal court jury years later. Nosair was sentenced to life in prison along with Sheik Rahman, the architect of the first World Trade Center bombing. It is now well known that if federal authorities had paid attention to Rabbi Kahane's assassination, they would have had a better chance of preventing the first attack, which, of course, was the major inspiration for the second and final World Trade Center attack on 9/11/2001.
Q. Is JDL anti-homosexual?A. JDL seeks to encourage belief in the morality of our Creator as set down in His eternal Torah, and the Torah forcefully denounces male homosexual activity. We believe that the recent judicial trend in the United States to denigrate the institution of marriage by redefining the term to include homosexual couples is an especially inappropriate extension of judicial power, but even legislatures in democracies are not free to arbitarily redefine the meanings cultural institutions like marriage because of political correctness. We don't ask our members or supporters about their sexual activities, but we do not condone homosexual behavior as we feel it is detrimental to the perpetuation of Jewish life. However, it is not up to us to judge or condemn homosexuals. G-d judges all of his creation but is also merciful to humanity, knowing that we are souls placed in fallible flesh.
The 5 JDL UK Principles:
Ahavat Yisrael - Love of Jewry:
The Jewish Defense League came into being to educate the Jewish people to the concept of Ahavat Yisrael meaning one Jewish people, indivisible and united, from which flows the love for and the feeling of pain of all Jews. It sees the need for a movement that is dedicated specifically to Jewish problems and that allocates its time, resources, energies and funds to Jews. It realizes that in the end, with few exceptions, that the Jew can look to no one but another Jew for help and that the true solution to the Jewish problem is the peaceful liquidation of the Exile (may it come speedily, and in our days, as prophesied) and the return of all Jews to Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. It sees an immediate need to place Judaism over any other "ism" and ideology and calls for the use of the yardstick: "Is it good for Jews?"
Hadar - Dignity and Pride:
JDL teaches the concept of Hadar, pride in and knowledge of Jewish tradition, faith, culture, land, history, strength, pain and peoplehood. Hadar is the need to have pride in Judaism and not allow it to be disgraced and defiled by beating and desecration of Jewish honor. This is the concept that the great Jewish leader Zev Jabotinsky attempted to instill in the oppressed and degraded masses of Eastern Europe 70 years ago. The anti-Semite's hatred and contempt of the Jew is an attempt to degrade us. It is an attempt to instill within the Jew a feeling of inferiority. It is an attempt that, all too often, succeeds in promoting Jewish self-hatred and shame in an attempt to escape one's Jewishness. Hadar is pride. Hadar is self-respect. Hadar is dignity in being a Jew.
Barzel - Iron:
JDL upholds the principle of Barzel, iron, the need to both move to help Jews everywhere and to change the Jewish image through sacrifice and all necessary means, strength, force and even violence as a last resort. The Galut image of the Jew as a weakling, as one who is easily stepped upon and who does not fight back is an image that must be changed. Not only does that image cause immediate harm to Jews but it is a self-perpetuating thing. Because a Jew runs away or because a Jew allows himself to be stepped upon, he guarantees that another Jew in the future will be attacked because of the image that he has perpetuated. JDL wants to create a physically strong, fearless and courageous Jew who fights back. We are changing an image, an image born of 2,000+ years in the Galut, an image that must be buried because it has buried us. We train ourselves for the defense of Jewish lives and Jewish rights. We learn how to fight physically, for it is better to know how and not have to, than have to and not know how.
Mishmaat - Discipline and Unity:
Mishmaat: discipline and dedication creates within a Jew the knowledge that he or she can and will do whatever must be done, and the unity and strength of willpower to bring this into reality. It was the lack of discipline and Jewish unity that led continually to the destruction of the Jewish people. It is Jewish unity and self-discipline that will lead to the triumph of the Jewish people.
Bitachon - Faith in The Indestructibility of The Jewish People:
Faith in the greatness and indestructibility of the Jewish people, our religion and our Land of Israel is Bitachon. It is a faith that is built by our belief in HaShem Tzvaot, the one and only Jewish G-d of Hosts and the incredible saga of Jewish history that has seen us overcome the flood of enemies that have arisen to wipe us out in every generation. It is this faith in the permanence and survival of the Jewish people that, in turn, gives faith in the ultimate success of the Jewish Defense League. No matter how difficult, no matter how impossible the task may seem, if it is a good task, if it is a holy task, it will succeed, because it must.
The sources for the philosophy and actions of the Jewish Defense League are Jewish sources. They stem from the wellsprings of Jewish tradition and have their roots in Jewish teachings. In the Hebrew Scriptures, in the Talmud, in the teachings of Chazal, our blessed rabbis throughout the ages, in Jewish practice throughout history, the concepts of Ahavat Yisrael and Hadar Yisrael and the practices of Barzel Yisrael, Mishmaat Yisrael and Bitachon Yisrael are hallowed. At the same time, an eternal debt is owed to Jews of our age who also recognized that these concepts are indeed Jewish and who fought an assimilated Jewish tide to put them into practice. We refer to the great Zev Jabotinsky, his followers and his movement of which we consider ourselves a spiritual part. And sitting in Heaven righteously alongside Jabotinsky is the founder and forever spiritual leader of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane. May the Almighty grant us the understanding to recognize and act on our problems forthrightly and the courage to go out to battle against our enemies in the face of all obstacles, from within and without.