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Israel's enemy within: A community on the edge

Part 2: The West Bank settlement of Kfar Tapuach, home to many followers of Meir Kahane

The Shin Bet “had information that he was my friend,” Yehuda explained. “They arrested me and two other kids. They held me in a chamber for four days, with the light always on. I don’t have bathroom. They close my eyes with black glasses, put me in a chair with my hands behind my back. Mostly I didn’t speak. They were trying to make me speak. They told me my two friends were speaking already. Now you speak. Lies like that.”

Eventually the Shin Bet released Yehuda and his two friends, and he received a letter two weeks later saying the case was closed. I asked Yehuda if he did, in fact, have anything to do with assisting his friend Eden.

“I won’t tell you if I have,” he said. "About what they arrest us — assisting murder, uh, it’s like nine years [in prison].”

Since his teenage brushes with terrorism, Yehuda has “a little bit changed my mind,” as he puts it. Once he fought against the army; now he is part of it. “I think it’s important to know how to fight and think like a warrior for anything that comes.”

Yehuda’s enemies are the Palestinians, “but they’re not a threat for us because we can erase them in no time,” he said. “But who’s not letting us to do it is the government and also the Shin Bet.”

Yehuda’s father, Lenny, is proud of all his children. Lenny, his wife and eight children, and their dog, Choice, are a welcoming, warm family, considerate and polite to guests. But they are, in some respects, the manifestation of the Israeli government’s worst nightmare. Lenny is a follower of Kahane, who advocated the forcible removal of Arabs from all lands controlled by Israel. In 1990, an Egyptian-American shot him dead in a Marriott hotel in Manhattan. Many Israelis see people like the Goldbergs and other followers of the late Kahane as the enemies within, the Jews who are so sure that their path is the one blessed by God that they are prepared to use violence to dissuade the Israeli government from evacuating Jews from the settlements of the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.

“Just kill the Arabs,” Lenny’s 18-year-old son, David, called out in English, with a laugh, at one point as the family gathered in their garden.

“Sometimes I’m proud when they call me a terrorist,” said Moriah, Lenny’s daughter, a sweet-faced 16-year-old who spent 40 days in prison when she was 13 years old, for repeatedly blocking Israeli roads in protest against Israel’s evacuation of its settlements in the Gaza Strip. “It means I’m doing good things when they call me that.”

Moriah, who stood in her garden in a pair of slippers with the faces of smiling dogs covering her toes, said she has broken the law since her time in prison. “But, baruch Hashem [thank God], I didn’t get arrested.” She wears a wooden pendant around her neck. On one side there’s the etching of a fist and on the other, in Hebrew, it reads: Kahane was right. “I will never stop doing things if I believe in them … . I will die for my country. I will fight if they [the Israeli government and army] fight against Hashem. If they come with weapons, if they come to kill us we have nothing to do but to stand up and kill them first. Usually you say this about Arabs but they [the Army] do the same thing.”

She quickly changed her mind, perhaps realizing what she had said about killing Israeli soldiers: “I won’t go and kill them. They’re Jews who do bad things.”