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Jewish settlers sit on a main road to prevent entry of government inspectors handing out orders to halt construction in the settlement of Maale Levona in the central West Bank, December 7, 2009. Daniel Bar-On/AFP/Getty Images
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Israel’s ‘Wedding of Hate’ Should Shock, But Not Surprise

Read Tablet’s 2011 exposé on the hilltop youth movement that spawned Israel’s radical right wedding

by
Yair Rosenberg
December 28, 2015
Daniel Bar-On/AFP/Getty Images
Jewish settlers sit on a main road to prevent entry of government inspectors handing out orders to halt construction in the settlement of Maale Levona in the central West Bank, December 7, 2009. Daniel Bar-On/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Israeli TV aired a clip of a right-wing wedding in which participants danced to a song of vengeance while waving weapons and stabbing the portrait of a murdered Palestinian child. The video, which was collected as part of an Israeli investigation into Jewish terrorism, was condemned across the country’s political and religious spectrum. It even provoked shocked settler leaders into voicing support for the government’s investigation into Jewish extremism.

But while the images in the video should shock, they should not surprise. In September 2011, Tablet published Elizabeth Rubin’s 8,700-word exposé on the young women of Israel’s most extreme settlements—”a new kind of girl—smitten with God, righteous, ideological, ready to fight and procreate for the cause of restoring biblical Israel.” The piece included photographs of the teenagers in question. The first: 14-year-old Roni Goldberg, the bride at the now-infamous wedding.

At the outset of the piece, Rubin describes meeting Roni and her older sister Moriya. They are avowed devotees of the extremist American rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated expelling Arabs from Israel and whose party was banned from the Knesset for racism. Recounts Rubin:

Moriya, who is 19, was wearing blue balloon pants, a turquoise-and-silver nose ring, and a silver Star of David around her neck emblazoned with Meir Kahane’s famous emblem—a thumb rising out of a tight fist. Roni is 14. Her nail polish was blue, and she was wearing a Snoopy T-shirt and a wooden pendant etched with the Hebrew words: “Kahane was right.” They’re fighters, these girls, each in their different way. “We called him after Benjamin Zeev Chai,” said Moriya of her 6-year-old brother. Benjamin Kahane, the son of Meir Kahane who was killed, was her father’s best friend, she said. A lot of her father’s friends were killed, she said, as she handed Benjy a candy. One of them is still in prison for killing a Palestinian.

The teens’ father, Lenny Goldberg, is similarly strident:

Lenny’s all about strength, fighting back, looking like nut jobs. “We shouldn’t complain if CNN and BBC make us look like crazies,” he said. “That’s our trump card. The greatest deterrent factor you have with the Arab is they think you’re crazy.” He put on the voice of a namby-pamby teacher: “We love and they hate. We build and they destroy,” he whined. “No! King David killed.”

As Rubin relates, Goldberg’s daughters Roni and Moriya not only define the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in zero-sum theological terms, but have rejected the authority of the Israeli state. Moriya even served time in jail after attempting to block Israel’s pullout from Gaza. “These girls are a new language,” Rubin writes, “believing that they belong to the land on which they were born, and sponsored by the government they despise, which pays for their roads and electricity.”

After profiling many other young women in the hilltop movement, Rubin closes by returning to Roni:

I went to see Roni once more before I left. When I asked her what her biggest wish in life was, she told me proudly: Nikama, to take revenge against the Arabs. There was going to be a March at a place near Itamar, she told me. “We’re going to build something there,” she said. “We want to show the Arabs we’re not afraid of them.”

Who will go? I asked her.

“Everybody who wants to,” she said. “All the kids in my age group, we have power. We are not married. So we can do something. When I marry I’ll have kids, I won’t have time to do things like this. So now I have to.”

Read the whole piece here.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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