Rabbi Meir Kahane, the controversial member of the Israeli Parliament who threatened to sue Harvard Hillel if he was not allowed to speak there, will not be prevented from speaking, Hillel officers decided last night.
Kahane, founder of the militant Jewish Defense League (JDL), will be allowed to enter the Harvard Hillel building and speak to students on November 13 as long as he does not cause a disturbance, though he has not been invited as a speaker, said Hillel Vice-Chairman Dina R. Gerber.
Previously, Hillel officials had said that Kahane was not welcome at Hillel and that he would not be allowed to speak.
Kahane said earlier this week that he was planning to come to Boston to speak at the Boston University and Harvard Hillels, even though neither organization had invited him. He said he was coming to challenge what he described as a standing policy denying him a platform for free speech.
Kahane could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In an earlier interview, Kahane said that Hillel's policy was dictated by a directive from B'nai Brith, Hillel's national, parent organization, which prevents any representative of the JDL from speaking at organizations supported by B'nai Brith. Kahane said that Hillel's refusal to allow him to speak was a violation of his right to free speech and threatened a law suit if he was prevented from speaking at Hillel.
Rabbi Larry S. Moses, international director of B'nai Brith Hillel Foundations, explained his organization's policy, saying that "His [Kahane's] teachings have been inimical to Jewish teachings and traditions."
Rabbi Samule Z. Fishman, associate national director of B'nai Brith Hillel Foundations, said that the policy banning JDL representative is binding on all Hillels.
But Hillel Chairman Aaron S. Saiger said that Harvard Hillel's failure to invite Kahane is not the result of the B'nai Brith policy and that there is no policy which excludes Kahane from speaking at Harvard Hillel. "I do not consider B'nai Brith's resolution binding on us [Hillel] as a student organization," said Saiger. Saiger said that, "Kahane has the right to speak, but Hillel has the right not to invite him."
Kenneth Sidman, JDL coordinator for New England, said that Harvard Hillel is included in a group of 3000 organizations which are contacted every year and given the opportunity to invite Kahane to speak. Sidman said that anaverage of six of these organizations annuallyrespond by inviting Kahane.
However, Gerber said that Kahane did not askfor an invitation to Hillel, but instead sentHillel a letter telling them of his plans tospeak. But he probably would not have been invitedeven if he had asked, she said, because invitinghim would "legitimize his position."
Kahane has advocated expelling all Arabs fromIsrael and instituting strict Jewish law in thatnation.
Kahane's spokesman quoted him as saying"Violence is a terrible thing, but sometimesterribly necessary. And if it takescounter-terrorism to stop terrorism, then we arefor counter-terrorism."
Kahane said in an earlier interview that heplans to tell students that Judaism isincompatible with democracy and that Jewishleaders are unwilling to face this "most painfulof all questions."
In the past, Kahane has attracted smallaudiences at Harvard. When he spoke at the ScienceCenter in 1982, fewer than 20 people came to hearhim.
However, other Kahane speaking engagements havearoused controversy. When he spoke at San DiegoState University in October 1985, an estimated 450people came to hear him and about 50demonstrators, both Jews and Arabs, attempted todisrupt his comments. Security was heavy andincluded police from the university, city, countyand FBI, said Morris S. Casuto, regional directorof the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego.
Kahane's talk at San Diego State University hadoriginally been sponsored by the Jewish StudentsUnion, a Jewish group on campus which laterreconsidered and withdrew its invitation. TheModel U.N. Club at the school agreed to sponsorKahane three hours before he was scheduled tospeak, said Rabbi Jay N. Miller, director ofJewish campus centers of San Diego