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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

Her father runs a small business bringing inflatable, bouncy castles and swimming pools to parties and schools in the summer months. Israel considers Kahane’s followers to be terrorists and works hard to restrict their activities. Goldberg, for example, is not legally permitted to carry a weapon. When we met, in January, Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza was reaching its end and Goldberg seemed frustrated with the Israeli military’s strategy, which involved sending Israeli soldiers into Gaza. Goldberg proposed a purely aerial assault on the Palestinians.

“I want them to bomb all of Gaza, even if they kill all the civilians,” he said. “You have to firebomb all of Gaza and not let one Jew get hurt.”

One of Lenny Goldberg’s friends in Kfar Tapuach is the guard dog-trainer, Yekutiel Ben Yaakov. “How does it feel to meet a Jewish terrorist?” he asked me, laughing, when we first met.

He meant it as a mocking joke toward the Israeli security services, but three years ago they took Ben Yaakov seriously enough to close down his kennels in Kfar Tapuach and an internet cafe he ran in Jerusalem. He was the leader of a small group of Kahane supporters called the Jewish Legion, made up mostly of American immigrants. “The Jewish Legion was actually declared a terrorist organization by the Israeli government,” he said. “We continue to raise dogs and do exactly what we did but we’re not the Jewish Legion.”

Ben Yaakov denied that his internet cafe was a headquarters for terrorism, as he says the government alleged. “Was there many right-wing extremists who came to that internet cafe? Very possibly.”

The security services apparently remain concerned about Ben Yaakov’s activities. “Last year I got an administrative order that I’m not allowed to be anywhere in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] for a three month period,” he said. “So I was living out of my car for three months of last year… . They said my presence in Judea and Samaria is something which will jeopardize relations between Jews and Arabs.”

Most mainstream Israeli politicians have said that further evacuations of settlements are inevitable and necessary at some point if there is to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Ben Yaakov agreed that an attempted evacuation was likely. “We’re heading toward a situation where in all likelihood there will be bloodshed between Jews,” he said. “I say this with a heavy heart.”

Read the rest of "Israel's enemy within":

Part 1: A rising militancy from the Jewish settlements

Part 3: Palestinian militants gird for battle

Part 4: The "Hilltop Youth"

GlobalPost correspondent Matt McAllester has reported on Israel/Palestine since the late 1990s, when he was Middle East bureau chief for Newsday, and more recently as a contributing editor for Details magazine. The field reporting for this series was done over several weeks in the West Bank and Israel earlier this year.