Even among conservative Jews, there are many who detest Rabbi Kahane’s appeals to the base feelings of the Jewish mobs whom he incited against Arabs. There is no need to presume him wrong.

Rabbi Kahane was a political figure; religion was for him a basis for political action. That was precisely the rabbi’s part to do. Most rabbis separate God and politics, which is unjustifiable in Judaism. But recall R. Akiva, whose students manned the Bar Kochba revolt, or numerous examples of European rabbis of old calling on the Jews to fight the mobs. Rabbis should lead in whatever social action is currently necessary for Jews.

So R. Kahane needed followers, and he addressed each group of followers in their language, or rather showed his doctrine to them from an angle they could accept. It would be all too easy to point out that R. Kahane doesn’t “compel” them to chant, “Kill the Arabs!”; that was their own mood. But let’s consider a harder question: would it be right for him to call for killing the Arabs?

That brings us to the point of ends and means. For Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Croats, Lithuanians, etc., murdering Jews was the end in itself. For the Jews who acted in Dir Yassin or Kfar Qassem, killing Arabs was a means. Likewise the Americans who firebombed Tokyo sought to win the war rather than to achieve the maximum number of Japanese deaths per se. In R. Kahane’s case, the killing of Arabs is a means to creating a Jewish state. I don’t believe for a moment that he would have presided over a comprehensive extermination of Israeli Arabs, whether in the manner of the Hebron massacre of Jews or the death camps. But, as is regrettably the case in any war, we have to kill some enemies in order to terrify the rest of them and make them accept our demands. Arabs won’t show us goodwill and suddenly stop terrorizing Jews, and take off and leave this land. Regrettably, they would do that only out of fear. Fear is a product of terrible deeds or credible threats, whereas credibility is again a matter of terrible deeds. So to call for the killing of Arabs is not wrong per se as long as it clearly serves as a means, and we take reasonable steps to economize the enemy’s death. An example of such economy of terror is Dir Yassin, where a relatively small number of deaths occurred under dubious circumstances. It was publicized to such an extent, and with such a tint, that hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled.

In the politically correct society of Israel, where it is unimaginable to publicly speak of deportation, where the very term “Arab terrorism” is deemed racist, R. Kahane needed to shake the public back into honesty. He couldn’t have countered the extreme leftist propaganda with nice talk, with academic rabbinical arguments. That was not a civilized debate in which opposing sides are respectful of each others’ views. Note how the leftists shouted him down with whistles, loud music, and screams. The situation was charged; it was not a place for theoretical discourse. In that particular situation, R. Kahane had to fight fire with fire.

It would be all too easy for me to say that heated rhetoric is normal in debates, and given the high tension of the moment, R. Kahane was remarkably careful of his words. This was not an academic debate, and even academic debates often turn ugly when social issues are involved.

More importantly, what is Jewish? A few days ago, we celebrated Purim, the fact that we have slaughtered men, women, and children. The midrash tells us of Jews dragging Amalekites from sewage channels where they were hiding—and slaughtering them. If we believe in God, then note how illiberal are his ways: the slaughter of the Egyptian firstborn, the commandment to slaughter Amalek, the eternal praise of Pinchas for murdering a Jew for merely marrying a shiksa, the gruesome details of animal offerings. God is not nice. What is morality? It is that which the Torah defines as morality. Please, don’t mix Jewish morality with that liberal nonsense which they pass for Judaism in the temples. We have a specific, standing commandment to expel all non-Jewish inhabitants of the land—by whatever means. If we don’t, they will rise up against us—as indeed we’re seeing now.

That is not only Judaism, that is common sense. Who were the Allies killing in WWII during the bombing raids on Germany and Japan? There were no soldiers, only women, children, and the old. Wars are not nice.

There is no need to demonize Arabs; it’s enough to see them. They hate Jews, and will continue hating us. Why? Why do Christians hate us? In the case of the Arabs, they have a rational reason for hatred: they want their land back. Do you have the slightest doubt that Israeli Arabs would slaughter all the Jews the moment they could do it? There are no good and bad Arabs; all Arabs are good and patriotic.

That brings us to the question, should Arabs be treated as natives (who fought for what is honestly theirs, and should only be expelled) or the Amalek (who attacked Jews when we were weak, and should be annihilated?)

This is not a coffee-and-cake dispute in a San Francisco Starbucks. It is a war of survival. There is no nice, fair solution. It is better to survive than to be nice, and we cannot do both.

Jewish anti-Arab racism is not nice but unavoidable