Vowing to uphold "Jewish honor and Jewish pride," 125 chanting, shouting supporters of the militant Jewish Defense League demonstrated for two hours yesterday in front of the headquarters of Hanafi Muslims who 10 days agao held scores of Jewish hostages at gunpoint.
While the rhetoric was violent, the demonstration was peaceful and ended without incident about 2:45 p.m. as a large, helmeted JDL contingent from New York City - singing in Hebrew and shouting "Never again" - boarded buses for home.
As many as 60 policemen armed with riot sticks and gas masks stood in line along 16th Street NW facing the demonstrators and keeping them to the curb opposite the Hanafi headquarters where two Hanafi sentinels, wearing olive drab plastic rain capes and carrying long sheathed swords, paced back and forth.
"Meet the real Jews!" shouted Rabbi Meir Kahane, the JDL founder who came to Washington yesterday morning for the protest. Surrounded by black helmeted JDL lieutenants waving placards and carrying baseball bats, Kahane geature at the Hanafi headquarters and declared that Hanafi leader Hamaas Abdul Khaalis is "on our list. Never will he walk these streets safely again."
Kahane said the small local turnout was "a disgrace and (it is) humiliating to us there aren't 50,000 Jews here." Including reporters and spectators, about 250 people in all turned up for the demonstration in a cold, drizzling rain across the street from the Hanafi headquarters at 7700 16th St. NW.
Khalis himself, who 10 days ago led 10 gunmen in seizing 124 hostages in three Washington locations, including the downtown B'nai B'rih Jewish service organization, stayed inside the house, according to Washington Police Chief Maurice Cullinane.
While the Hanafi siege had been chiefly aimed against the rival Black Muslim sect, there was considerable anti-Jewish rhetoric by the Hanafis and the gunmen beat and pistol-whipped Jews at B'nai B'rith and insulted them verbally.
Kahane said in his airport press conference, "Ten days ago Jews were seized, cursed, beaten and humiliated. We saw for just a minute what could happen in this country if we let this go by."
During the demonstration, JDL members chanted: "Who do we want? Khaalis! How do we want him? Dead!"
Cullinane, relaxed and sometimes chatting with his officers, paced in front of the house during much of the demonstration.
Earlier, Cullinane and U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert had met with Kahane to work out details of the demonstration. Cullinane said he never gabe any serious thought to trying to prevent the demonstration altogether but, "I told Kahane where we'd established the police lines. He understood that, I explained to him the laws of the city."
Kahane's version differs. He said Cullinane tried to get him to call of the demonstration, then tried to get him to have it a block away from the Hanafi headquarters. Kahane said he refused both requests.
Kahane said he also refused not to use a loudspeaker, but he did promise not to initate violence.
Kahane arrived in Washington on a late-morning fight from Miami and expressed shock in a press conference that Khaalis was set free without money bond.
"I find it incredible that a man involved in the muder of someone (a newsman died during the seizures) and the kidnaping of people is home free without bond - unbelievable," Kahane said.
Asked if he was seeking confrontation, the militatn rabbi replied, "I'm hoping for a change in the Jewish image in whatever way that takes place." Then he was whisked off by police plainclothesmen for his meeting with Cullinance before appearing at the demonstration early in the afternoon.
Kahane was highly critical of Jews in Washington ,saying some Jewish leaders here called him in an attempt to head off his demonstration.
He said he had to come here "because we couldn't find Jews with guts in Washington."
"If we woul have the kind of Jews in Washington that we should have," Kahane said at his airport press conference, "if Jews in Washington would do for Jews what they ave done for blacks and Puerto Ricans and grapes and lettuce, we'd be in much better shape."
Bernard S. White, president of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, asked about his in a later telephone interview yesterday, responded: "There's a time to act and talk and a time not to . . . The police have the situation under control. This isn't a matter for private citizens to take into their own hands."
White said his organization, whic represents 180 Jewish organizations and synagogues in the Washington are, has issued statements deploring the Hanafis' anti-Semitic acts and statements and said that "to go beyond that would be inappropriate."
During the demonstration, Kahane called upon Jews in Washington to join the JDL and to purchase .22, caliber firearms with which to defend themselves. "It's legal to have a .22," he proclaimed over his loudspeaker. "Change the Jewish image!"
(The District's gun registration and licensing laws restrict possession of .22 caliber guns just as they do all other firearms.)
Aside from JDL members, several dozen spectators gathered on the steps of the synagogue across thestreet from the Hanafi house.
"I'm just a concerned Jew," said Mike Webb, a local furniture salesman. "I've never protested before. I'm not a religious Jew. I'm just tired of seeing Jews killed and maimed because of their beliefs."
Bernice Chefitz of Baltimore stood with her three sons under a colored umbrella and explained that she and her hushand "want to show people we're proud to be Jews. We're not militant at all, but we feel they [the JDL] are the only ones that are really trying to do something about [anti-Semitic acts and statements by the Hanafis], and we feel something should be done about it."
Bob Troy, a local electrician, said he doesn't agree with everything Kahane says but added that he is "proud of the JDL" and commented that the Hanafi seizure of hostages "shouldn't go without some sort of (protest)."
Local real estate developer Norman Tayler said he didn't thing Washington's reaction to the hostage incident was "American . . . It wasn't in support of the freedom that this country stands for." Tayler added that, "In any society where Jews are deprived of freedom, that country has gone totalitarian."
Tayler was accompanied by his 22-year-old son, Baron, who was wearing several militant JDL buttons and patches on his faded blue jean jackets, and who said he had been a JDL member for six years.