Shaul Magid

Oct 19, 2023

The Unquiet Legacy of Jewish Radical Meir Kahane

A Discussion with Shaul Magid

Princeton University Press 2021

In the wake of the massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas in October, 2023 I spoke with Shaul Magid, author of Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical (Princeton University Press, 2021). A visiting professor of modern Jewish studies at Harvard Divinity School, Magid also is rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue in Sea View, N.Y. Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League in the late 1960s, was assassinated in New York in 1990 yet, as Magid told me, and as his perceptive book demonstrates, his legacy lives on. Kahane was an exponent of a “militant post-Zionist apocalytpticism,” in Magid’s term, and he lived by an ethos of revenge—in Hebrew, Nekama. Nowadays, a kind of neo-Kahanism serves as an agitating ideology for a faction of Israelis who revere Kahane and keep his memory and uncompromising pronouncements alive. And as Magid explains, the neo-Kahane vision presents a stark challenge to a liberal, democratic Zionism that Kahane himself detested.

Veteran journalist Paul Starobin is a former Moscow bureau chief for Business Week and a former contributing editor of The Atlantic. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. His latest book, Putin’s Exiles: Their Fight for a Better Russia (Columbia Global Reports) will be published in January.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Paul Starobin

Veteran journalist Paul Starobin is a former Moscow bureau chief for Business Week and a former contributing editor of The Atlantic. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. His latest book, Putin’s Exiles: Their Fight for a Better Russia (Columbia Global Reports) will be published in January.

Learn More

Also Hosted By Paul Starobin