Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2007, pages 30-32
Kach’s U.S. Representatives Continue to Solicit Funds for Banned Terrorist Group
By The DC Investigative Journalism Collective
Michael Guzofsky, a.k.a. Yekutiel Ben Ya’acov, maintains the Web site for the bannedVoice of Judea, which the State Department has designated a foreign terrorist organization (Staff photo P. Pasquini).
ACCORDING TO Israeli Army Radio, the banned right-wing terrorist group Kach is petitioning Israel’s High Court of Justice to reinstate its status as a legal political party, thereby allowing its members to run for the Knesset. This follows on the heels of a 2006 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals denying Kach’s request to have its 2003 redesignation as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) overturned (see Jan./Feb. 2007 Washington Report, p. 19). Kach apparently is betting that, if Israel revokes its terrorist designation, the U.S. will soon follow suit.
Ironically, while Kach’s eventual legal status may in fact be determined in Israel, the bulk of its support continues to flow from the United States. Kach’s U.S. supporters, in fact, are the lifeline that keeps the movement an active threat to any future peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Kach and Kahane Chai were first listed as distinct terrorist organizations in 1995, when President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12947, entitled “Prohibiting Transactions with Terrorists Who Threaten to Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process.” (The list also named Hezbollah, the Egyptian Islamic Gamaat Islamiyya, led by Sheikh Abdul Rahman, and several Palestinian “rejectionist” groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] and Hamas.)
On Oct. 5, 2001—less than a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.—Secretary of State Colin Powell redesignated Kach and Kahane Chai as a “single organization” using various aliases [see box on facing page]. In 2003 the State Department included the name “Kahane” on its list of aliases of Kach/Kahane Chai. “The principal U.S. members of Kahane Chai/KACH [sic],” it found, “have consistently attempted to evade legal responsibility for their illegal activities by using different names for the organizations.”
Having determined that Kach/Kahane Chai has “a substantial connection with the United States,” the State Department “provided Kahane Chai representatives in the United States with advance notification of possible redesignation.”
According to the State Department’s administrative record—which never would have been released were it not for Kach’s 2003 appeal—letters of notification were sent by certified mail to Michael R. Guzofsky, Jacob Guzofsky, Richard Zim, Eric Greenberg and Fern Sidman. In addition to return receipts bearing the signatures of Michael Guzofsky, Greenberg and Sidman, the State Department received the following reply from attorney Kenneth Klein: “I am representing a United States citizen who is a representative of Kach, an advocacy organization existing in the United States.”
Apparently the fact that Kach had been designated an FTO some eight years earlier was not a concern to Klein.
While it is the State Department which compiles the list of FTOs, the law is actually enforced by other federal agencies—Justice, in the case of criminal complaints, and Treasury, in the case of financial sanctions. Judging from publicly available U.S. government records, however, Kach/Kahane Chai has managed to maintain an extremely low profile for a designated FTO existing in the United States. To date there have been no indictments or criminal prosecutions against members or supporters of Kach/Kahane Chai.
In its 2001 “Terrorist Assets Report” to Congress, the Treasury Department stated that it had frozen over $1 million belonging to al-Qaeda, over $6 million of Hamas funds, over $17,000 of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s, and precisely $200 belonging to Kahane Chai. In 2002, Kahane Chai’s frozen assets increased by a single dollar, to $201. That is the extent of blocked Kach/Kahane Chai assets as reported through 2005.
Treasury Department spokesperson Molly Millerwise points out that, in addition to the amounts of funds frozen, terrorist designations “shut down channels used by terrorist groups to raise, move, and store money, they put the world on notice about a group, individual or entity that poses a threat to security, and they make it harder, costlier, and riskier for terrorists to carry out their activities.”
In the case of Kach/Kahane Chai, however, the repercussions seem to be minimal at best. According to a 2002 CIA Foreign Broadcast Information Service report, one of the aliases for Kach and Kahane Chai, “kahane.org,” lists the aforementioned Michael Guzofsky as its billing contact. Another Kach alias and designated FTO closely associated in recent years with Guzofsky—who himself goes by various aliases, including Yekutiel Ben Ya’acov—is the “Jewish Legion,” or Judean Legion or, in Hebrew, Gedud Haivri.
According to the Department of State’s unclassified 2003 summary of the administrative record presenting the case for the group’s continued designation as an FTO, “Kahane Chai has solicited individuals for membership in a terrorist organization or to engage in terrorist activity...Kahane Chai, through its Web site http://www.kahane.org, has solicited individuals for membership in its group and has maintained the capabilities to engage in a terrorist activity by recruiting for its paramilitary wing, the Jewish Legion, which offers training in deadly hand-to-hand combat, firearms and guard dogs.”
Israeli police investigated the Jewish Legion in 2004 for “setting up unauthorized roadblocks in which its members randomly select Palestinian vehicles for inspection.” According to a Jerusalem Post report, the group—based in Tapuach, a settlement located at a strategic junction near Nablus, in the heart of the West Bank—claimed that “it has extended activities outside the settlement boundaries where its armed members search Palestinian vehicles, ambulances and U.N. vehicles.”
Israeli police subsequently raided and shut down Jewish Legion offices in Tapuach for being a front for Kach/Kahane Chai.
Testimonials to Terrorists
A series of testimonials by Israeli officials praising the Jewish Legion was posted on the Yahoo! Group “Stand By Israel” by moderator David Gross. One such testament is from Brig. Gen. Harel Konfo, Shomron Regional Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander: “Good things must be said of a project that helps secure the Tapuach area.” That the Jewish Legion has actively worked in conjunction with the IDF is reflected in a posted message from a settler representative from the regional council noting that “The (J.L.) kennel has helped the IDF and yishuvimsecurity teams.”
The above quotes were taken verbatim from the Jewish Legion Web site, <www.defendisrael.net>. Gross also includes on the group’s homepage a scan of an October 2003 article from his local Long Beach, NY newspaper documenting an award he received for his support for the Jewish Legion in Tapuach.
Like the Kahanists in the Palestinian population center of Hebron, south of Jerusalem, Tapuach’s extremist settlers are provided 24-hour protection by the Israel Defense Forces. According to “thumper0608,” an IDF officer posting on “Stand By Israel,” the Kahanist group is “well meaning and strongly Zionistic in their own way”—a way that just happens to encourage murdering Arab civilians (see “Tags” on the Voice of Judea YouTube page pictured opposite).
Apparently, however, there are some lines that even Israeli settler paramilitaries are not allowed to cross. On Feb. 4, 2007, a blogger calling himself “Ya’aqov Ben-Yehudah” posted an article on the Internet titled “Naveh’s Crimes.” It included the reproduction of a sort of “wanted” sign in Hebrew posted around the occupied West Bank. As presented in the English translation, the individual in question is Yair Naveh, IDF “general of the central command” in the occupied West Bank, who is “wanted” for such alleged crimes as “expulsion” of Israeli settlers, “pogrom” in the conflict with settlers in Amona, as well as “incitement” and “silent expulsion” for signing restraining orders against settler youth attacking Palestinians during the annual olive harvest.
In its 2006 closing brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals, the State Department described this sort of intimidation as “terrorist activity.” According to the brief, “Kahane Chai has engaged in terrorist activity by threatening and conspiring to carry out assassinations...Kahane Chai has threatened to harm Israeli Security officials involved in investigating Kahane Chai members.”
On March 30, 2006—three years after the State Department listed the Jewish Legion as an alias of Kach—Americans and Israelis Strength and Honor (AISH) published an appeal for $5,000 to buy a Toyota truck for Israel’s Best Friend (IBF)—one of several recent reincarnations of the Tapuach-based Jewish Legion. According to the appeal, “AISH works closely with Israel’s Best Friend, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing guard dogs for those who need them in Israel. Our president, Ed Banyai, is on their board.”
The following day, Ya’aqov Ben-Yehudah, poster of “Naveh’s Crimes,” posted an appeal on Stand By Israel entitled “urgent appeal help IBF stop terror in Israel please forward.” Seeking a $10,000 donation, this appeal concluded: “Your 501c3 tax deductible contributions can be sent to Americans and Israelis Strength and Honor—AISH, 6839 Woodridge Drive, Norfolk, VA 23518.”
A search of Guidestar.org, which lists IRS charitable organizations, yielded no results for either “AISH” or “Israel’s Best Friend.”
In a June 10, 2006 post to the MySpace group “jews4life,” “Moreh” included a link to the Jewish Legion (Gedud Haivry) Web site (<www.defendisrael.net>) and described the life of a Legionaire:
“You buy your own ticket and got to show up in Tapuach, Samaria, ”˜West Bank.’ To be accepted as a Legionaire, got to be mentally fit. Tests are tough. Life is hard, Food is bad. Bed is hard. Good thing, you won’t use bed much.”
And volunteering is simple. The Web site <www.kahane.org> lists a Brooklyn phone number—(718) 874-2057—which conveniently rings in Tapuach.
Among those who have responded to the recruitment effort is Eden Natan-Zada, who left his IDF unit for Tapuach and opened fire on a bus full of Israeli Arab citizens during the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, killing four people. Another new IDF recruit, American-born Israel Reinman, went missing in the West Bank, entered a mosque on June 5, 2006 and shot it up before fatally turning his military-issued weapon on himself. Police found Kahanist literature in his apartment. After emigrating to Tapuach from North Carolina, “Jeffrey Seath/Shmuel Zatam, a recent oleh hadash” (as described on kahane.org) was arrested for attempting to smuggle a sniper rifle and thousands of cartridges—as well as, according to one report, a crossbow. He told police of his dream of “hunting Arabs.”
Visitors to Tapuach also have included an “Americans for a Safe Israel” delegation led by founder Herb Zweiborn, who received a hands-on tour of the group’s programs there by Michael Guzofsky and David Haivry of Revava, a Kahanist group focused on seizing the Temple Mount/Haram Al Sharif. The two Americans now live in Tapuach.
The “defendisrael” Web site includes a detailed application form for volunteers, with fields for military, self-defense and criminal background. The site also offers a link for a secure credit card donation and a link for donating via PayPal, the ubiquitous Ebay-owned Internet payment service.
According to Treasury spokesperson Millerwise, “ongoing fund-raising in the United States by designated parties is something we would take extremely seriously.” Its system of terrorist designations, she maintains, has made it “harder, costlier, and riskier for terrorists to carry out their activities.”
Unless, apparently, contributions are made via Paypal.
State Department List of Kach/Kahane Chai Aliases
The State Department’s 2003 administrative record listed the following organizations as affiliated with or aliases of Kahane Chai, a designated foreign terrorist organization:
“For My Mother”
In January 2004, a fund-raising appeal was sent out “in memory of Rabbi Meir, Binyamin and Talya Kahane” for a new building in the “outpost” settlement of “Tapuach West” (which subsequently was demolished by the Israeli army). The letter, signed by “Yekutiel Guzofsky”“project coordinator,” David Haivry, and Lenny Goldberg of Darka Shel Torah, stated that “for U.S. tax deductible contributions, checks can be sent to Kol HaMacabee, in Colorado with a special notation that funds are for the synagogue in Tapuach West.”
The address listed for Kol HaMacabee, whose director is Matt (Moshe) Finberg, is 1871 Folsom Street, Boulder, Colorado 80302. This same address was listed by Finberg’s “Ascendant Redemption,” aka Maalat HaGeula, aka Torah Heart Mind and Body, aka Jewish Identity Center. Current holder of the 501(c)(3) group’s tax ID #68-0522194 is “B’nai Elim.”
Finberg and Bill Maniaci founded B’nai Elim as a means of mainstreaming Kahanism in the U.S after their short-lived attempt to revive the Jewish Defense League. According to a release from the group, Finberg stepped down as its “international chairman” in October 2006 to be replaced by Robert Turk. The list of new officers includes “Director of Israeli Affairs, Mike Guzofsky (Yekutiel ben Ya’akov).”
In June 2006, Finberg had appeared as a guest on Guzofsky’s “Voice of Judea” Internet broadcast. In the video, Finberg nods approvingly as Guzofsky urges him to send recruits to Tapuach to join its canine units and “defend” Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. At the end of the video, while Guzofsky is making his fund-raising pitch, Finberg asks him to repeat the information “for my mother.”
In a Feb. 13, 2007 post to “Yekutiel” on the kahane.org forum, the “director of operations of B’nai Elim” stated, “On behalf of the board of B’nai Elim, we thank you a lot and we are very proud to deal with a person like you. You are a real asset to be with us and we welcome any advices [sic] that you will have. And most importantly, if you will need any help, for the reasons that I will not put on this forum, something done in the USA, just ask.”
Finberg, who moved to the West Bank settlement of Shiloh in July 2007, still maintains a law practice in Boulder, and is general counsel and corporate secretary to a new Internet company, the ClickPlay Network, which describes itself as “a new, extremely easy and fun media previewing and purchasing system for use over the Web, and via forthcoming G2 and G3 wireless mobile telephones and handheld devices.”