Elections 2009 / Haaretz Exclusive: Avigdor Lieberman Said to Be Ex-member of Banned Radical Kach Movement

Ex-Kach official reveals he issued Yisrael Beiteinu chair with membership card for extremist group.

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman was once a member of the outlawed far-right party Kach, the movement's former secretary general revealed on Tuesday.

Yossi Dayan said he issued Lieberman, a prime ministerial candidate whose current electoral campaign against Israeli Arabs has provoked outrage, with a party membership card when he was still a new immigrant to Israel.

"I don't recall to what extent he was active in the movement, but if he denies [this], I am ready to testify in any forum that Lieberman was indeed a member for a short amount of time," said Dayan.

Kach was banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 for inciting to racism.

Ultra-nationalist activist Avigdor Eskin, meanwhile, remembers meeting Lieberman at Kahane's office on Ussishkin Street in Jerusalem. "I remember this very well, because I arrived there one day after I immigrated to Israel in 1979," he said.

Eskin came to public attention for having boasted of holding a pulsa dinura ceremony prior to 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The ceremony, believed to be of kabbalistic origin, is aimed at conferring a death curse on the subject.

"Kahane saw him as a good guy. I also thought back then that he was not a Kach man ideologically, unless the only measure of this is the question of whether you like Arabs. According to what I remember, he handed out the movements' publications among its small student group in the Hebrew University," Eskin said.

He added that he met Lieberman in Kahane's office a number of times, but to the best of his knowledge the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman was only involved in Kach for a number of months.

Yisrael Beiteinu relayed in response to the Haaretz report that, "We are not dealing with this orchestrated provocation. The success of Yisrael Beiteinu has created among its opponents a great quantity of lies and fabrications, which the political and media establishment knew beforehand."

The revelation came one day after Israel's most recognizable television anchor, Haim Yavin, branded Lieberman as "Kahane's successor," a reference to the murdered extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who headed Kach movement.

Former Kach members, for their part, actually reject the Kahane comparison. "He is a poor imitation of Kahane," one said. Dayan, who was close to Kahane for over a decade, is disgusted by it.

"Not everyone who speaks against Arabs is a Kahane," he said. "[Lieberman] can take a few elements, but to be Kahane is a whole doctrine. Nevertheless, I'm happy that he's saying what he's saying, because without a radical solution to the problem of Arabs in Israel it can't be good here."