Sami and myself are proud Zionists. We don’t believe Zionism is a dirty word. If Zionism is anything, it is an innately just idea. We are proud of the State of Israel – and adamantly support its right to live in peace and security.
While we believe there is nothing inherently immoral concerning Zionism, we nevertheless recognise that there are extremists within our midst who give our ideology a bad name. I am talking about the most radical remnants of Meir Kahane’s Kach movement – famously banned from the Knesset and mistrusted by the majority of the Jewish community around the world.
Kahanists are notoriously difficult to meet. If I were to put it lightly, they are a rather paranoid bunch. Were it not for a chance meeting at a Jerusalem tram station, this part of our trip would probably have not materialised.
A bearded chap who only called himself Aharon began one of the strangest conversations I have ever had. Blankly staring into space, my daydreaming was abruptly ended by a thick New York accent blaring into my ears. ‘You speak English? Have you been to Pennsylvania?’
‘I am English,’ I replied politely. ‘But no, I’ve never been to the states.’
‘Well I used to be an American, and let me tell you, the New World Order is planning something. I’ve seen it. They have more guns than the State of Israel and Nazi uniforms to kill all the Jews. It’s gonna be another Holocaust I tell you! And Bibi is part of it. Someone better assassinate him. He’s just another Pennsylvanian Nazi.’
This is perhaps the weirdest conversation starter I’ve ever had – or rather, will ever have. I’m fascinated by conspiracy theorists – I’ve even been tweeted by them. But meeting this guy was a surreal experience.
‘Err, where did you see the Nazi uniforms?’ A simple question to ask…
‘Where did I see them? You questioning me? Are you some sort of ultra-liberal or something? Let me tell you something. Meir Kahane was right, I was his driver in New York, and he told us to buy gold in the seventies. The Dollar is going down. I have a gold bar under my bed. The Federal Reserve is working with the Nazi New World Order. You don’t need to see anything. Just know Kahane was right. He was damn right!’
Sami just stood there laughing away. He couldn’t resist joining in. ‘You know we’re in Jerusalem on a fact finding mission to support Jewish rights against Arab apartheid.’ Aharon seemed unamused. ‘You’re not some stupid Jewish liberal are you?’
Sami repeated himself in case he hadn’t heard properly – but Aharon remained quiet. ‘What the heck!? You side with those camel lovers!?’ He had clearly not got the sarcasm. His eyes were blaring, his fists were clenched – he looked as if he was about to assault us.
I quickly interjected. ‘No, no, no, no! Of course not. We’re here to support our right to Eretz Yisrael. It’s the Palestinians – sorry Jordanians – who are the enemy.’
Sami came back in to calm him down. ‘We support Jewish settlers from being ethnically cleansed from their land. And we’re huge admirers of Rav Kahane, if only we could have met him…’
Aharon stopped trembling with rage – and began to slowly calm down. Pausing for a few minutes, he then restarted the conversation. ‘Wait! You wanna meet his brother Nachman? He gives a shiur every Sunday morning in the Old City; and his host prepares the best lox. Oy!’
A rare opportunity to infiltrate the centre of the Kahanist world had just presented itself to us – coupled with the additional bonus of a free breakfast. We had to latch onto it.
‘Oh yeah, and Mike might be there also, I’m involved with a lot of JDL stuff.’
Mike, I thought? ‘What!? Mike Guzofsky?!’
Aharon’s eyes lit up with delight. ‘You know him? That’s great. I love his dogs. He has about ninety of them and they’re all trained to kill Arabs. Dogs chasing dogs. I love it! Do you wanna meet him while you’re here?’
Another golden opportunity had landed on our doorstep. Guzofsky is one of the most controversial figures in the Jewish world. He is widely deemed a terrorist and is one of only a dozen people to have been personally banned by the British Home Secretary from entering the United Kingdom. Putting it simply, this guy was as contentious as you can get.
A quick phone call later and we had arranged a meeting with ‘Mike’ and ‘The Rav’ – two influential figures in the world of Kahanism. Agreeing to meet Aharon very early in the morning – to avoid ‘surveillance’ of course – we were definitely in for an interesting ride…
To be continued…
Jonathan Hunter is the UK Campus Director of StandWithUs UK and serves on the Union of Jewish Students’ National Council. He is described by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as a Mossad Operative – when he actually struggles to complete his degree at Brasenose College, Oxford.
Sami Steinbock serves as a representative for the Union of Jewish Students on the Board of Deputies. He is affectionately known as The Bock and leader of the #BockNation. In his spare time he is a student at King’s College London.