From Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam. A portrait of a misguided young American Jewish Settler. Imagine if he had been a young American Muslim there would be hackles raised about “homegrown terrorism.”
Haaretz is reporting that an American born-again Orthodox Jew, Ephraim Khantsis, has received a military order expelling him from the West Bank for six months for expressing solidarity with Jack Teitel and his terrorist acts against Palestinians. Though he was enrolled in the Machon Meir Yeshiva, he spent most of his time since making aliyah to Israel four months ago at the Kfar Tapuach settlement, a hotbed of Kahanist extremism. It was there that residents reported him.
With some key help from the intrepid Sol Salbe, I’ve learned quite a bit about our Kahane-wannabe. He recently graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a degree in computer science. He grew up in Bensonhurst, known as a tough neighborhood filled with Syrian and Russian Jews.
He was profiled back in September in quite an unlikely place, Conde Nast’s Details Magazine, where he made the rather startling confession, even before becoming an Israeli citizen, that he would shoot IDF soldiers who came to remove him from the extremist enclave where he intended to make his home:
…There’s a pledge Khantsis makes, one that it’s also possible to hear from Americans already living in settlements, that might be more troubling to Israeli authorities: If the Israeli military comes to remove him from his new home—and many in Israel believe such an event is likely—he will not leave peacefully.“I would fight against it with all my strength, and I would leave nothing back to try to stop it,” says the slim young man wearing a black yarmulke. He speaks so softly that at times it’s hard to hear him. “If they use violence, then we’re justified doing the same.” Would that include using a gun? “Yes,” he says. Is he absolutely sure that he would use a weapon against Israeli soldiers? “That’s right. I strongly hope it would never come to that,” he says. But “if they’re already shooting us, I’d have no option. I don’t think the right thing to do is turn the other cheek. It’s not a Jewish thing to do.”
The entire story is a real eye-opener as it chronicles other hard-core Hilltop Youth and their forays into violent insurrection against the secular Israeli state. I got a dark laugh from the thought that the Shin Bet can do some of its best intelligence work by reading glossy American men’s magazines. In this day and age, even wannabe terrorists maintain social networking profiles. He has a Facebook account, where his political views are listed as “Kach” and religious views are listed as “fundamentalist.” One thing you have to hand to him: at least he’s honest. He lists his hometown as “Belgorod Dnestrovskiy, Ukraine.”
I am sorry to say that Khantsis’ Ukrainian origin fits with the fact that many former Soviet Jews came to Israel and America with hardline anti-Communist views which translated into hardline nationalist political views supporting the Likud (in Israel) and parties even farther to the right (like Kach for one). When Avigdor Lieberman first made aliyah he too made common cause with Kach.
Among the Facebook pages he features are those of Nadia Matar, the Women in Green settler extremist who called for Mahmoud Abbas assassination at a Manhattan synagogue; and Ketzeleh Katz, settler Knesset member featured here in a YouTube video foaming at the mouth against the Israeli TV satire program, Eretz Nehederet; Kahane Tzadak (“Kahane was right”); Mike Huckabee, darling of the settler extremists; and the settler news portal, Arutz Sheva.
He lists his profession as “web designer,” which somehow seems fitting in this age of internet terrorism. He has a Twitter account aptly named, Doom7777. Seems to have had a fantatical devotion to Gilad Shalit (“Kidnapping, terrorizing, fanatical monsters will not succeed to subdue the Zionist State!”) and his freedom, though he pretty much stopped tweeting once he made aliya.
So this is the cream of American Jewish youth, our latter-day Zionist chalutzim who, like our European grandparents, came to build the land and make it bloom–with settlements, barbed wire, attack dogs, M-16s and hate. When are we going to wake up and realize this isn’t a Zionist dream, it is a nightmare. And in order to prevent the nightmare from turning into a cataclysm, we must crack down on this aberrant form of Jewishness and Zionism. We must destroy these movements and ideas. If neither the Israeli nor American governments takes firmer action they will have only themselves to blame for the consequences. We have seen what the Jack Teitels can do even with his solo reign of terror. Imagine what an entire movement of Teitels can do with some ingenuity and intestinal fortitude. All they have to do is think a little bigger, get someone with the vision of an Osama bin Laden. That would be all it would take for some real mayhem.
Haaretz notes that this military expulsion order is one of the most severe measures at the disposal of the military authorities in dealing with extremist settlers. There are currently three such orders in effect against residents of Yitzhar.
The actions taken against Khantsis bring home once again the necessity for the U.S. government to do a better job of monitoring the radical pro-settler movement in this country and the necessity for clamping down on fundraising here on behalf of extremist settlements like Yitzhar and Kfar Tapuach among many others.
For some odd reason Haaretz English omitted Khantsis’ name from its English language report, but not from the Hebrew edition.