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Israel's Next War?
Produced and Directed by Dan Setton

 

ANNOUNCER: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the most guarded Israeli leader in history. Now the threat to his life is perhaps less from Palestinians than from among his own people. While most Israelis welcome his negotiations with the Palestinians, his intention to remove the Jewish settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank has made him an enemy to many settlers and their supporters among Israel's extreme right. For them, the man who was once their most admired leader is nothing less than a traitor.

PROTESTERS: [subtitles] Hang the traitors! Gaza for the Jews! We will not let it happen. Removing settlements is the worst crime in Israel's history!

ANNOUNCER: The extreme religious right has daily confrontations with the Israeli police. They hope that anarchy and chaos will stop the political process. But the religious extremists have a greater long-term agenda, a war against the secular Israeli state itself, a vision of restoring the Kingdom of Israel and rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem.

PROTESTER: [subtitles] The Lord is God!

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE, an investigation of a small but dangerous group of extremists who threaten both the peace process and Israel itself.

SHMUEL BEN YISHAI, Settler, Hebron: [through interpreter] Only chaos can change the situation. The Israeli secular entity has to be destroyed. God can't reveal himself until it's all wiped out. As long as the state of Israel stays as it is, there will be no redemption.

 

NARRATOR: Every November, tens of thousands of Israelis gather in Tel Aviv to honor the memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to reconcile with the Palestinians. In 1995, he was murdered by a Jewish religious extremist.

Every November around the same time, people from the extreme religious right meet to commemorate the murder of a very different leader. Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered in New York in 1990 by an Arab assassin. Born and raised in New York, he preached for violent Jewish self-defense. He emigrated to Israel and was elected to the Israeli parliament, where he called for the expulsion of all Arabs from the Holy Land. His racist views were so extreme that his party was outlawed, and in 1994, Kahane's party was declared a terrorist organization.

But today his ideas remain strong.

KAHANIST: [subtitles] Kahane was right!

NARRATOR: Kahanist ideology has been adopted by several splinter groups, a small percentage of the Israeli population. Several thousand strong, they are united by religious zealotry and ultra-nationalism.

KAHANIST: [subtitles] Kahane lives on!

NARRATOR: They oppose Israeli democracy and any peaceful dealings with the Palestinians.

BARUCH BEN YOSSEF, Kahanist, Jerusalem: [through interpreter] If we want to understand Rabbi Kahane, his message was that we need to go to war because, in fact, what will bring our redemption is not prayer. What will bring redemption is war.

But today, we're going in exactly the opposite direction. Instead of war, there's Peace Now. There's an attempt to prevent war at all costs. And if we can force the army to go back to being offensive, an army of revenge, an army which cares about Jews more than anybody else, then we'll be able to bring the final redemption in the only way possible, through war. War now!

NARRATOR: This is the West Bank, captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. The first settlements were built here for security reasons. Since then, settlements have expanded across the West Bank. More than a quarter of a million Israelis now live here. Some have come for economic reasons, good subsidized housing. Others are making a political and strategic stand. Many believe they are fulfilling their religious destiny, living on the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria.

In the last five years, a new group of young radical settlers have illegally occupied over a hundred remote outposts. Called the "hilltop people," they are one of the splinter groups who identify with the Kahanist ideology. They see themselves as pioneers, taking back the land of the Bible.

One of the hilltop people who emerged as a leader was Netanel Ozeri.

NETANEL OZERI: [subtitles] We took over this area and that area. We have to make roads.

NARRATOR: Ozeri carried the Kahanist ideology to the hilltops. Hundreds of young men followed him to keep the land out of Arab hands. Together they built outposts and trained in the use of weapons. In 2000, Ozeri took over Hill 26, which overlooks Hebron. Living in an isolated house with his wife and children, without electricity or running water, he embodied the ascetic ideal for the new hilltop settlers.

Ozeri disdained Israeli law and believed that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved only by war, a war triggered by settlers like him.

NETANEL OZERI: [subtitles] We believe that Jews should live in the Land of Israel. It's a matter of sanctifying God's name, as opposed to desecrating it. And it's only a matter of time until the war, with God's help, will begin, and it will begin with us. And in the end, we'll win. We'll inherit the land and expel the people who are in it.

NARRATOR: The hilltop settlers see themselves as the authentic Jews, true to their own interpretation of the Bible.

YEHOSHAFAT TOR, Settler Mt. Hebron: [through interpreter] We're returning to the way it was before. We want it to be like it was before the diaspora, as this land was before the destruction of the holy temple. Back then, our people lived naturally in our own land, with the God's presence among us, and it was natural. This was living. We are following our hearts. What we should be doing is all written in the Bible. We just read it in our weekly Torah portion: Expel the Arabs. Kick them out!

NARRATOR: Disputes between the radical settlers and their Palestininan neighbors are constant. In this case, a shot fired at the settlers provokes an instant response against the next Palestinian on the road. The Israeli army has to intervene.

SETTLER: [subtitles] Don't film! Stop filming!

NARRATOR: The radical settlers have weapons and military training. They believe that if they could do things their way, everything would be different. Unlike most settlers, who accept the reality of living next to the Palestinians, the radicals claim an exclusive right to the land and everything that grows here. It's a message they're getting across to their neighbors, the Palestinian farmers, often with violence.

SHMUEL BEN YISHAI, Settler, Hebron: [through interpreter] There are certain conditions, according to Jewish law, under which non-Jews may live here. This doesn't apply to the Arabs. They don't fit the category. They have to get the hell out. Whoever leaves under his own steam will save his own life. Whoever doesn't, will have to pay the price. This is the land of Israel.

NARRATOR: Antagonisms between the radical settlers and their Palestinian neighbors were fed by the second Intifada, which started in late 2000. Palestinian suicide bombings killed hundreds of Israelis. While Israeli security forces tracked the bombers among the radical Palestinian groups, they also became aware of a pattern of random killings of Palestinians by Israeli civilians.

Then, in February 2003, there was a dramatic killing just outside Hebron, on Hill 26. Late on a Friday night, the leader of the hilltop people, Netanel Ozeri, was murdered by Palestinians in front of his wife and children.

LIVNAT OZERI, Netanel Ozeri's Wife: [through interpreter] We were sitting in the living room. We heard a knock at the door. Nati got up with a pistol to see who it was. He managed to cock the pistol. I yelled, "Nati, don't open it!" Then Nati asked, "Who is it?" Someone said, "Open up. It's Mordechai." Then I heard a blast of gunshots.

NARRATOR: Israel had never seen a funeral procession like Ozeri's. It became a radical demonstration of all of the Kahanist splinter groups. Carrying his body with his face uncovered, contrary to Jewish custom, Ozeri's followers set out to bury him on the hill on which he'd lived.

SHMUEL BEN YISHAI: [through interpreter] Nati was a leader with a vision, a vision of the Holy Temple. He inspired the youth, who, in the eyes of the mainstream, are the fringe youth, in the eyes of the settler establishment are the hilltop youth, but in my eyes are the salt of the earth.

NARRATOR: They hoped that Ozeri's grave would sanctify the hill and serve to hold it for all time, but the military was ordered to stop them. All through that day, Ozeri's followers carried his body on a funerary trip across the hills of Judea.

SHMUEL BEN YISHAI: [through interpreter] The army prevented us from burying him on the hill. We wanted to take him all around the country in order to enrage people. Do you see? Today, it's back to normal. Back to normal, a Jew is murdered, you have a ceremony. When a soldier is killed, his whole unit comes. They cry, two gunshots, and it's over. We wait for the next victim. We wanted him to be the last victim, the last one! People, look at this. Be outraged!

PROTESTERS: [subtitles] Revenge! Revenge!

NOAM FEDERMAN, Kahanist, Hebron: [through interpreter] Revenge is an important value. The Talmud says that it is one of the greatest things. Revenge is great.

SHLOMI DVIR, Settler, Bat Ayin: [through interpreter] Almost every one of the Psalms mentions revenge in one way or another. Usually, people recite Psalms for the sick. In all of the Psalms, there are maybe two verses about the sick. About revenge there are hundreds of verses.

NARRATOR: That night, Ozeri was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Hebron.

Attacks against settlers had set in motion a cycle of revenge that had been playing itself out since the beginning of the Intifada. At least seven Palestinians had been murdered in apparent acts of pure revenge since 2000. Israeli security forces uncovered dozens of other attempts and, as they continued investigating, realized that they were possibly dealing with an organized Jewish underground.

Bat Ayin is a settlement in the West Bank, between Jerusalem and Hebron. In recent years, it's been a center of religious Jewish militancy.

YARDEN MORAG, Settler, Bat Ayin: [through interpreter] We are born-again Jews who understand each other well. Among us are people with certain opinions that aren't acceptable even by religious society, including the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. We have all kinds of ideas.

NARRATOR: Built entirely by the people who live there, Bat Ayin had started as an unauthorized settlement and has since grown into a community of over 50 families. Unlike most settlements, everything is done by Jewish labor. They do not allow Arabs here. They say this is how it should be in the Kingdom of Israel.

[www.pbs.org: View map of West Bank settlements]

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] I envision the whole people of Israel living on the land, within its true borders, which include much more than we have, both sides of the Jordan, parts of Lebanon, parts of the Sinai. A kingdom would be unlike this rotten democracy. A king would be loyal to one thing, to what God tells him, to what is written in the Torah.

OFER GAMLIEL, Settler, Bat Ayin: [through interpreter] We should live here according to the Torah, first and foremost, the laws of the Torah.

NARRATOR: The people of Bat Ayin live in enmity with their Palestinian neighbors, who don't dare come near. While other settlements are fenced in, the people here prefer a different approach: deterrence.

YAKI MORAG, Settler, Bat Ayin: [through interpreter] The Arab knows that when a Jew fences himself in, the rest of land is his. We want to prevent that. He puts his plow next to the Jew's fence and starts plowing all the way to his village, and that's unacceptable. If I don't have a fence, it confuses him. Our fence, in fact, goes as far as an M-16 can reach. The range of an M-16 bullet is our fence.

YARDEN MORAG: [through interpreter] If they shot a few rounds at you, you go to their village and shoot a few more. These were simple reactions. If they damaged an orchard, you damaged 10.  Two eyes for an eye, teeth for a tooth. And then there was an escalation to where I crossed all the red lines. From a desire to scare the Arabs off, you get to attempted murder. All the way, big-time.

NARRATOR: In Bat Ayin, a plan began to take shape in the Spring of 2002 which would come to shock the entire nation.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] It was my idea. It started as my idea.

YARDEN MORAG: [through interpreter] I supplied the explosives.

OFER GAMLIEL: [through interpreter] I'm an explosives expert.

YARDEN MORAG: [through interpreter] Someone got a trailer from somewhere.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] The wagon belonged to the Jewish settlement in Hebron. It contained 200 liters of gasoline.

YARDEN MORAG: [through interpreter] Something like that. This is the trailer a propane tank, a barrel, a propane tank and a barrel. An explosive charge attached to the propane tank, another charge was attached to this barrel, and the fuses come out to a clock that was placed here, attached to the barrel.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] We set the clock for 7:30 AM.

NARRATOR: This was the intended target, an Arab girls' school in East Jerusalem. The huge bomb was meant to go off at the entrance at the busiest time of the morning, as the children were arriving at school.

YARDEN MORAG: [through interpreter] This street is usually full of people, a place which is next to a school, between a school and a hospital.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] Whoever gets hurt gets hurt.

INTERVIEWER: [subtitles] Just like Hamas does?

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] Just like they do.

OFER GAMLIEL: [through interpreter] They came to me at my house late at night, and somehow, when they left, it was clear to me what would happen.

NARRATOR: At 2:00 in the morning, Yarden Morag and Shlomi Dvir hitched the booby-trapped trailer to the settlement security vehicle. They left Bat Ayin, prepared to the last detail, ready to take innocent lives.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] We got there at about 3:00 AM. We passed the Hebrew University and entered the Arab neighborhood. And then it got complicated because that night, a police car happened to be in the area.

1st PATROL UNIT OFFICER: [subtitles] I guess we were sent to stop them.

INTERVIEWER: [subtitles] You mean that God sent you?

1st PATROL UNIT OFFICER: [subtitles] Yes, that's what I think.

2nd PATROL UNIT OFFICER: [subtitles] I saw them come in with the vehicle, with the wagon in back. I flagged them down. I signaled them to stop.

YARDEN MORAG: [through interpreter] He saw that we were Jews. He asked where we were going. I said, "To Beit Orot." That's a yeshiva in the area.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] Then they drove off. They didn't suspect a thing. We turned around at the gate at Beit Orot and drove back. We got to our destination, and we unhitched the wagon, tied it in its place and drove off. We could have gotten home.

But again, the finger of God. We had planned to— after we unhitched the wagon, we were going to puncture a tire so it wouldn't look suspicious, but we forgot. With all the pressure, we completely forgot. And after we had driven about 200 yards, I told Yarden, "Hey, we forgot to puncture the tire." So he put the car in reverse and drove back 200 yards

2nd PATROL UNIT OFFICER: [subtitles] After he put it in reverse, I thought he was trying to get away from me. My patrol car was at the center of the intersection, and a car goes into reverse.

1st PATROL UNIT OFFICER: [subtitles] They wouldn't answer any questions, not who they were or what they were doing there.

2nd PATROL UNIT OFFICER: [subtitles] We searched the car. We found a mini-Uzi, a pistol, cartridges.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] So within 10 or 15 minutes, they sent in lots of patrol cars, security vehicles, all kinds of blue lights. And it takes a while to realize it, to get it into your head that you've gone from being a free man to being a prisoner. The handcuffs they put on me will stick with me for years.

YARDEN MORAG: [through interpreter] Well, from the moment we were caught, I started to realize that we might have made a mistake, in terms of— in terms of heaven, you know, in terms of what God wants from me.

NARRATOR: The next morning, back in Bat Ayin, Yarden Morag's father received the news about his son's arrest.

YAKI MORAG, Yarden Morag's Father: [through interpreter] When I found out, I was filled with rage, overflowing with anger, and I wanted to find Yarden at the police compound and slap him. The security service man tried to calm me down. He said that what Yarden needed is a hug from his parents because he was going to go through a tough period of interrogation and a very long trial.

NARRATOR: The interrogation of Morag and Dvir soon led back to Bat Ayin and another member of the terror cell, Ofer Gamliel.

OFER GAMLIEL: [through interpreter] It was obvious that I would be arrested. I left the marketplace. They closed off the road, and it was like a Hollywood movie. They got out of the cars, the doors open, they stood behind the doors with guns and megaphones. As soon as I got there, they showed me testimonies given by Shlomi and Yarden. They showed me their detailed testimonies, what they said, everything. And it turned out the police had me followed until I was arrested.

NEWSCASTER: [subtitles] The arrests became the talk of the settlements.

NARRATOR: In Bat Ayin, the settlers didn't want to believe the security forces and tried to minimize the arrests.

SETTLER: [subtitles] The security service reported a lot of underground groups, which turned out to be tempests in a teapot.

NARRATOR: But across the West Bank, most settlers were shocked by the scale and target of the plot. The Israeli Press was united in its criticism. The Settlers Council issued a strong official condemnation. The arrested men expected support from their fellow settlers.

SHLOMI DVIR: [through interpreter] I had hoped to see different headlines— "This is what needs to be done," "Our blood is not for sale," "They kill our children, so we'll kill theirs." That's what I'd expected them to write. But instead, it's, "Tempest in a teacup," "We are law-abiding citizens," "We are not terrorists." It's ridiculous. The settlers are obsessively trying to get the approval of— I don't know who, maybe the media or the state.

NARRATOR: The security forces were convinced that the three men had not acted alone. They kept up interrogations. Then, a month after they'd been arrested, when Shlomi Dvir was brought to court, he tried to trick his guards by giving a copy of the Talmud to his wife. In it, he had encoded a message: "They want the names of Parrot and his friends. Warn them."

The Security Service interrogators are now convinced that "Parrot" is a code-name for Yosi Ben Baruch. Yosi Ben Baruch was another of the hilltop settlers. He'd built his home on a hill south of Hebron. The Israeli security service, Shabak, had come to believe that he was the brains behind the failed bombing outside the school in East Jerusalem.

In the Spring of 2002, Shabak's Jewish Unit classified him as their most wanted man, ambushed him, arrested him and brought him to the security service's underground interrogation center.

YOSI BEN BARUCH, Settler, Mt. Hebron: [through interpreter] You go in there, they put big, opaque sunglasses over your eyes. A jailer grabs you by the arm and drags you along. There's no window, of course. You can't tell if it's day or night. They take your watch away first thing, so you'll lose your sense of time

Every day, they move you to a different cell so you won't get used to one place. Sometimes they move you a few times a day. You come back from questioning, your things are gone. They have been moved to a different cell. They do this to break you, so you can't get a solid grip on anything.

NARRATOR: Shabak's interrogators tried to break him, but he wouldn't give up anyone. Ben Baruch would remain silent for 600 days. In a rare appearance, the chief of Israel's internal security forces went public with his concern.

AVI DICHTER, Head of Israel's Security Service: [through interpreter] Over the first two years of the Intifada, seven Palestinians were killed and nineteen were injured just for being Palestinians. The Jewish terrorists stopped at nothing. Every target was fair game. School children and hospital visitors were legitimate targets for them. But the most worrisome thing is their dream.

NARRATOR: The dream of the religious extremists is to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem destroyed 2000 years ago. Where it once stood, there are now two mosques, the Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam.

DEMONSTRATORS: [singing] [subtitles] We will bear our freedom with blood and fire. Rifle to rifle, the barrels will salute—

NARRATOR: Every month radical Jewish groups try to enter the Temple Mount to worship. The greatest fear of the security forces is that someone will try to blow up the mosque.

AVI DICHTER: [through interpreter] The dream of these extremists should give us sleepless nights. Jewish terror is liable to create a serious strategic threat that will turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a conflict between 13 million Jews and a billion Muslims all over the world.

DEMONSTRATORS: [singing] [subtitles] The Temple will be rebuilt, the city of Zion will be filled—

PROTEST LEADER: [subtitles] We demand to go up to the Temple Mount, to our holy place!

PROTESTER: [subtitles] They have to know that someone will blow up the mosques.

AMI AYALON, Fmr. Chief, Israel's Security Service: [through interpreter] There are many among these ideologically motivated groups who would like to see the collapse of the mosques on the Temple Mount become the catalyst for this process. And there is more. There are those who talk about it and there are those who are working toward it on the operative level in order to bring about a process of so-called redemption.

[www.pbs.org: More on religious extremists' goals]

NARRATOR: The security service tried to infiltrate the religious extremists and to enlist agents from among them, but they proved hard to crack. Years of arrests and interrogations had toughened them. Up against the strongest organization in Israel, Shabak, they had learned always to be suspicious.

SHMUEL BEN YISHAI, Settler, Hebron: [through interpreter] We live in a harsh reality, firstly because of technology. This cell phone is a bugging device. Then everything is controlled. Third, it's the government who is in control. Every time a photographer takes my picture, I wonder when a copy will find its way to the security service.

NARRATOR: A year after the arrest of the Bay Ayin terrorists, the security service was still working the case. Then the criminal identification unit put a name to some fingerprints on the trailer-bomb that had been planted near the girls' school. They belonged to Zuriel Amior. He was arrested and brought in for interrogation. But like Yosi Ben Baruch, Amior denied the charges and remained silent.

Four months later, Shabak had a break. Acting on a tip, they picked up two men and found eight army explosive charges in their car. They believed that one of them, Yitzhak Paz, was intending to use them against Palestinians. But this arrest was big news and triggered demonstrations of sympathy. Yitzhak Paz is famous across Israel for events that occurred in Hebron a year earlier.

YITZHAK PAZ, Settler, Hebron: [through interpreter] We lived in the Beit Hadassah in Hebron— me, my wife and Shalhevet, who was 10 months old. That day, unfortunately, changed my life completely. We decided to visit my wife's Parents who live in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood.

NARRATOR: Paz and his family came under fire from a Palestinian sniper.

YITZHAK PAZ: [through interpreter] I felt a blast near my feet, and when I looked down, I saw that a bullet had hit me. Blood was spurting out, and I realized I had been shot. At that point, I was sure that only I had been wounded. Meanwhile, my wife took Shalhevet from the stroller and took her behind a wall. Suddenly, she felt that her hand was wet with blood, and then she turned Shalhevet over and she saw the entrance wound and the exit wound and realized that I was the minor victim of the incident.

They tried to keep her alive, but God decided what he decided. I believe that she was a great soul who came to this world to go through this. That was her purpose in life, to further the process we're going through, the process of the Jewish people returning to its land and struggling for it. And in the end, God willing, the Messiah will come and the Temple will be rebuilt. It's all part of a process that will lead to the goal. That was the judgment. That was God's wish. We try to accept it with love, with all of the difficulty and sadness.

NARRATOR: Hundreds of settlers gathered at his daughter's funeral. Yitzhak Paz recited the Kaddish, the traditional mourners' prayer. On the walls of Hebron, graffiti called to avenge the blood of Shalhevet. Yitzhak Paz would be convicted for possession of explosives.

Then Shabak made another breakthrough in the Bat Ayin investigation. This rare footage shows the interrogation of Shahar Dvir, brother of one of the Bat Ayin terrorists. He gave up detailed information about the Jewish underground and eventually led his interrogators to a hidden cave on a hill near his settlement. There they found a large cache of explosives and arms stolen from the Israeli army. Ballistic tests revealed that these weapons were used in a number of unsolved murders of Palestinians.

Following Dvir's interrogation, Shabak brought in nine new suspects for questioning. What had begun as a chance arrest one night in East Jerusalem had become the biggest breakthrough in the security service's battle against Jewish terrorism.

NOAM FEDERMAN, Settler, Hebron: [subtitles] Hello? Who? Who? Yes? What did he say? What did he admit to? Do you want to know? Well, he said like this— He said that—

NARRATOR: Noam Federman is a leader of one of the Kahanist splinter groups. Shabak suspects that he was linked to the Bat Ayin cell. He denies it. He was put under house arrest. He has been in jail many times, often without specific charges, to keep him out of circulation.

NOAM FEDERMAN: [through interpreter] They think that I am at the least the head of a terror organization. Now, we have some guys in jail, guys who were Arrested recently. Ask any one who was released. I was the main subject of the interrogation.

ELISHEVA FEDERMAN, Noam Federman's wife: [through interpreter] I'm very worried about what the Shabak is capable of doing. They will stop at nothing. I see now they— they use really dirty, lying means to put them in jail. But it doesn't work. They arrest them, but it still doesn't work.

NOAM FEDERMAN: [through interpreter] I think the government is mainly afraid of us because we represent an alternative, an alternative that's not part of the game. We basically explain the Arab problem as Rabbi Kahane saw it, but not only, because what is really preventing the solution is not the Arabs, but some of the Jews. And those Jews— let's be direct, the leftists— it's not all of the leftists, but a particular sector of the left, who want to take control of the country. The secret service, the attorney general, the media, they want to create a new religion called "Israelism," and within this religion, you can be an Arab Israeli or a Jewish Israeli.

On the other hand, you have us. We say this country should be a Jewish country, with all of the far-reaching implications. And I think that that is what threatens them, so that they act in every possible way in order to try and stop us.

NARRATOR: Federman trains his followers—

NOAM FEDERMAN: [subtitles] Basically, a person is brought into the room like this.

NARRATOR: —giving instructions based on his personal experience on how to stand up to the tough interrogations by Shabak.

NOAM FEDERMAN: [subtitles] The chair is locked to the floor. The basic rule is, Don't say anything, not "Yes," not "No," not a word. If you want, you can talk to God.

[through interpreter] I'm trying to teach that the basic principle is that your decision— when you enter a security service building for interrogation, your decision from that moment, You should consider them as enemy for all intents and purposes. This is what I try to teach. Once you realize that you are dealing with an enemy, your behavior changes.

NARRATOR: Federman also wrote a detailed handbook on how to get through a tough interrogation.

[chapter headings, subtitles: "The Arrest," "The Interrogation," "The Interrogator's Lies"]

YOSI BEN BARUCH: [through interpreter] I was familiar with Noam's guidebook, and I put what he wrote to use. As you go in for interrogation, the mantra which they repeat is, "You won't get out of here without a confession."

YITZHAK PAZ: [through interpreter] "You're accused of A, B, C, and D. We know that you did such-and-such. We know this. We know that. He confessed and"—

YOSI BEN BARUCH: [through interpreter] They keep pumping into our head that he's in their hands, he's under their thumb, and therefore, we'd better confess.

NOAM FEDERMAN: [through interpreter] I try to teach them the exact opposite, that while they're there, they are not alone. Someone else is with them. He has no body or form. And that's God.

YOSI BEN BARUCH: [through interpreter] I locked into prayer. I prayed. I didn't look at them. I didn't open my eyes. No "Hello," no "Thanks," no "Good morning," nothing. I cut myself off completely.

NARRATOR: This close-knit group represented a special challenge for Shabak's Jewish section.

YITZHAK DAR, Division Head, Security Service: [through interpreter] The glue that holds them together is ideology. It's a very dangerous ideology. As long as they're only thinking it, as long as they're only talking about it, we can live with it. When they try to put it into action, through the murder of the prime minister, through the murder of Arabs, through the massacre at the Hebron mosque, it's the beginning of the end of a nation that can defend itself.

NARRATOR: Kfar Tapuach is another West Bank settlement and a center for the followers of Meir Kahane. They are constantly under surveillance by the security service. David Haivri is American-born and publishes Kahane's texts.

DAVID HAIVRI, Kahanist, Tapuach: [through interpreter] I was in America for two weeks. At the Tel Aviv airport, I was held up at passport security. They took me to a side room, where two security officers were waiting. They told me, "We think you're planning an attack on the prime minister." So I said, "I think you know me very well. You don't really think I'm planning to attack the prime minister. So tell me what you really want from me." They said, "Look, you're an influential person. You have a certain message. And we're warning you."

NARRATOR: Although the Kahanist party was outlawed, his followers remain active spreading his ideology. Another American-born leader of the group is Mike Guzovsky.

MIKE GUZOVSKY, Kahanist, Tapuach: [through interpreter] I'll tell you what I told the security service. They asked me to stop the guys here from encouraging acts of revenge against Arabs, so I said all right, not because philosophically or ideologically or religiously or practically that is not possible or it shouldn't be done, but simply because you hear every word, every word we say. Big Brother is watching from every direction, so we won't succeed. They said, "Only because tactically you won't pull it off, because we'll hear you, because we'll stop you?" I said, "Yes, that's the only reason."

I believe the day will come when secret services and the government will want Jews who are willing to risk their lives and go into Arab villages and kick them out, kill them. We have thousands of civilians with the military know-how to instigate a mega-attack against Arabs, unidentified people, like Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, who can do such a deed. No matter how much the security service and the police harass us, it won't do them any good.

INTERVIEWER: [subtitles] Do you think it will happen?

MIKE GUZOVSKY: [through interpreter] I think it will happen.

AMI AYALON, Fmr Chief, Israel's Security Service: [through interpreter] The individual terrorist isn't acting in a vacuum. And as for Yigal Amir— and what I'm saying is very severe, but I mean it. Yigal Amir is seen by tens of thousands of people as representing their community. And therefore, Yigal Amir is their messenger. That's very serious.

NARRATOR: In September 2003, the security forces suffered a setback. A month after the wave of arrests, they were forced to release most of the suspects for lack of firm evidence. Many of them had remained silent throughout their interrogations. All would later be released and Zuriel Amior acquitted.

United and strengthened, members of the Kahanist group, the hilltop people and the other right-wing extremists gathered for a celebration. Three months later, the Kahanists held another celebration.

SPEAKER: [subtitles] To preserve the sanctity Of the occasion, we ask the men to be near the canopy and the women to stay a little bit behind. Keep the men and women separate for the ceremony of the introduction of the Torah scroll.

NARRATOR: On a hill near Tapuach in the West Bank, a synagogue was being dedicated to the memory of Meir Kahane. Here his teachings could be passed on to a new generation. Thousands traveled to the hill for the ceremonial introduction of the Torah to the new synagogue. It was not only a reunion of generations of Kahanists from various groups but also a challenge to the government, which is trying to disband them.

[www.pbs.org: More about the Kahanists]

MIKE GUZOVSKY: [through interpreter] Our message to the prime minister— our message to the prime minister: We have built here a 200-square-yard building. We thought it's the biggest in Kfar Tapuach, but there isn't enough room here to hold everyone. So if the prime minister's wiseguys come and tear it down, they should know that the day after tomorrow, we'll build a new synagogue of 400 square yards.

KAHANISTS: _[singing] [subtitles] Kahane lives on, Kahane lives on, Kahane lives, Kahane lives, Kahane lives on.

MIKE GUZOVSKY: [through interpreter] We are now fighting the real struggle against the Hellenists of our time. They are not opposed to Kahanism. They are not opposed to Rabbi Meir Kahane. They are opposed to the Torah of Israel.

KAHANISTS: [subtitles] Kahane! Kahane! Kahane!

MIKE GUZOVSKY: [through interpreter] This is the true struggle, and they will never win.

NARRATOR: Only two weeks after the celebrations, the Israeli army moved in to remove the unauthorized building.

PROTESTER: [subtitles] Whoever touches a Jew, God won't forgive him!

PROTESTER: [subtitles] Just great! The true followers of Hitler. This is all you know how to do, tear down synagogues like Hitler!

NARRATOR: A month later, the Kahanists began rebuilding. Once again, the security service arrested Noam Federman. He was put under an extended administrative arrest. Shabak was hoping that he would eventually talk.

SHMUEL BEN YISHAI, Settler, Hebron: [through interpreter] You can break us financially. That's what they're doing. We, the "right wing" that is associated with us, is financially bankrupt. You can put us in jail. You can kill us. But you can't break our spirit. Noam Federman, even under administrative arrest, is no less Noam Federman. He's Noam Federman squared. Squared. So this is what you want, this is what you'll get.

NARRATOR: Federman, isolated in his cell, kept silent throughout the interrogation. Every Saturday night, his family and followers gathered outside the prison walls in a show of support.

PROTESTERS: [subtitles] Free Noam Federman! Free Noam Federman.

ELISHEVA FEDERMAN: [subtitles] Noam, regards from your kids. They miss you very much. They don't understand why they don't let you call, why they don't let them visit you. But I explain that the more trouble they give you, the stronger we get. So keep being strong there. We're with you.

NARRATOR: After a lengthy trial, the three men from Bat Ayin who had planted the bomb near the girls' school were brought in for sentencing. All three were found guilty of attempted murder. Yarden Morag was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

REPORTER: [subtitles] Do you have regrets?

OFER GAMLIEL: [subtitles] I regret the way this country looks.

NARRATOR: Ofer Gamliel and Shlomi Dvir were sentenced to 15 years. Soon after, Yosi Ben Baruch was also brought into court. He was accused of being the head of the Bat Ayin terror cell. He denied it. The charges against him were based on conflicting testimonies by his friends, and the evidence against him was circumstantial. He had been silent throughout his interrogations. After 600 days in prison, Ben Baruch had become a symbol of determination and commitment to his supporters.

He was set free. The court acquitted him on grounds of reasonable doubt.

YOSI BEN BARUCH: [subtitles] I felt that it was a battle the of faith against apostasy. There were times when they asked me, "Why bother praying? Your prayers can't penetrate the concrete here." I felt like I was battling enemies of God.

AMI AYALON, Fmr Chief, Israel's Security Service: [through interpreter] It's impossible not to respect the power of faith and personality that can survive these interrogations. The security service needs to understand what kind of people they're up against, how strong they are in their personality and faith. It's similar, in some cases, to fundamentalist Islamic terrorists. Ideologies like these provide immense strength

YITZHAK DAR, Division Head, Security Service: [through interpreter] Some of the suspects who kept silent and were tried were acquitted due to reasonable doubt, and I accept acquittal for reasonable doubt. We all understand the meaning of acquittal for reasonable doubt. Once something has happened, the question is not whether it can happen again but how it will happen again. Usually, the second time is worse.

NARRATOR: For nine months, Noam Federman had been held under administrative arrest. He would not cooperate with the authorities. In the summer of 2004, he was released from prison.

NOAM FEDERMAN: [subtitles] First of all, I have to praise and thank God. That's what I'll do now. Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who is good and makes better. Amen.

NARRATOR: Federman, Ben Baruch and a number of their comrades held out against the security services. They are now back among their supporters.

In the spring of 2005, tensions are mounting. As Sharon's disengagement plan in Gaza draws near, the security forces are on high alert. They are worried that this small but determined group of extremists may derail movement toward peace with the Palestinians. They are dedicated to a country without Arabs and without democracy. They see themselves at war with secular Israeli society. They believe that they are acting out God's will.

 

ISRAEL'S NEXT WAR

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Dan Setton

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR WGBH
Zvi Dor-Ner

SERIES EDITOR
Ken Dornstein

RESEARCH AND SCRIPT
Anat Tal-Shir

EDITED BY
Tali Halter-Shenkar
Dan Setton

CAMERA
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Tor Ben-Mayor

SOUND
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NARRATOR
Will Lyman

MUSIC
Dani Riechental

PRODUCTION MANAGER
Moshe Alafi

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH
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Michael H. Amundson

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Noam Pinchas
Jim Sullivan

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ADDITIONAL CAMERA
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ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS
Talia Arouch
Sabrina Castro

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Ben Gold

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DB Studios - Ronen Ben-Tal

POST PRODUCTION
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ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
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THANKS
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Charles Enderlin
Yizhar Be'er
Nili Klimovsky
Philipa Kowarsky

For FRONTLINE

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A SET Productions film for WGBH/FRONTLINE.

(c) 2005
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ANNOUNCER: There's more to explore about this report at FRONTLINE's Web site, where you'll find an interview with producer Dan Setton, a map of Jewish settlements in the West Bank that includes the remote outposts featured in this report, a chronology of the settlements' growth over three decades and the policies of Israeli and U.S. governments on this issue, background readings on the religious extremists and their splinter groups. Plus, watch the full program on line and join the discussion at pbs.org.

 

Next time on FRONTLINE: Karl Rove had a master plan.

... He was the architect. His hand was in all of it.

ANNOUNCER: It took 30 years, but he changed the political landscape.

... Karl Rove came to town with one goal, and that was this massive Republican realignment.

ANNOUNCER: How did he do it, and what does it mean for America?

... Karl Rove wants a permanent Republican majority.

... He's the god inside the machine.

 

ANNOUNCER: Karl Rove: The Architect. Watch FRONTLINE.

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posted april 6, 2005

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