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Meir Kahane, the right-wing rabbi whose unexpected appearance at the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel last Thursday sparked fierce protest from the group's leaders, was shot to death last night at a New York hotel.
Kahane had been speaking to about 60 people at an emergency meeting of the Zionist Emergency Evacuation Rescue Organization. According to police spokesperson Scott Bloch, a gunman entered the second-floor conference room at around 9:05 p.m., and shot Kahane in the head. Kahane was taken to Bellevue hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The gunman fled the hotel and attempted to hijack a taxi when he was shot by a U.S. Postal Service Police Officer, Bloch said. The postal service officer was shot by the gunman in the ensuing struggle, in which both men were wounded. A bystander in the hotel was also shot and wounded.
At Harvard, Hillel leaders said they were shocked by the assassination.
"This is really bad," said Hillel Coordinating Council Chair Jack C. Levy '92, who was one of a dozen students and staff who walked out of the Hillel building when Kahane appeared there last week. "Whatever this man's views that he espoused, he was basically murdered in cold blood tonight. An assassination is an assassination."
But Levy added, "It shouldn't change anyone's opinion about his views. It's really sad. This is the way people are dealing with these problems. You get his kind of hatred, and on the other hand, people answer that with murder. I hope this doesn't give more legitimacy to his views."
Hillel acting director Rabbi Sally R. Finestone, who also chose to walk out of the Hillel rather than hear Kahane speak there, said the fact that Kahane visited less than a week ago brought last night's incident closer to home.
"Any time someone is murdered, it's a tragedy," she said. "One can disagree with a person's views but violence is never a solution."
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