Jewish Defense League

A controversial organization known for its militant approach to combating anti-Semitism and advocating for Jewish interests.

Religion: Judaism
Founder: Meir Kahane
Founded: 1968
Location: United States

The Jewish Defense League (JDL) is a far-right Jewish organization that was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York City. The group was established in response to what was perceived as a rising tide of anti-Semitism and the perceived inadequacy of mainstream Jewish organizations in addressing these concerns. The JDL is known for its aggressive and often controversial tactics in defending Jewish interests both in the United States and abroad.

Founding and Ideology

The JDL was founded with the stated goal of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism by any means necessary, including the use of violence. The organization’s motto, “Never Again,” reflects its commitment to preventing a recurrence of the Holocaust. The JDL’s ideology blends Jewish nationalism with a militant approach to combating perceived threats to the Jewish people.

Activities and Tactics

The JDL’s activities have ranged from providing security for Jewish institutions and events to organizing protests and demonstrations against individuals and groups they consider anti-Semitic or hostile to Israel. The organization has been involved in various confrontational and, at times, violent incidents, including bombings, assaults, and threats.

Controversy and Legal Issues

The JDL has been a source of controversy within and outside the Jewish community. Its tactics and rhetoric have been criticized as extremist and counterproductive, and the group has been accused of engaging in acts of terrorism. Several JDL members have faced legal action for their activities, and the organization has been monitored by law enforcement agencies.

Leadership and Organizational Changes

Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the JDL, was a polarizing figure. He emigrated to Israel in the 1970s, where he continued his political and activist work, founding the Kach party, which was eventually banned in Israel for its extremist positions. Leadership of the JDL in the United States passed to other figures after Kahane’s departure.

Current Status

The influence and activities of the JDL have waned since its peak in the 1970s and 1980s. The organization still exists but is much less prominent than it once was. Its legacy remains contentious, with debates about its impact on the Jewish community and the broader struggle against anti-Semitism.