Louis Theroux: My time among the Ultra-Zionists

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BBC 2 documentary with Louis Theroux [@Louis_Theroux], Ultra Zionists:

Louis Theroux spends time with a small and very committed subculture of ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers. He discovers a group of people who consider it their religious and political obligation to populate some of the most sensitive and disputed areas of the West Bank, especially those with a spiritual significance dating back to the Bible.

Throughout his journey, Louis gets close to the people most involved with driving the extreme end of the Jewish settler movement – finding them warm, friendly, humorous, and deeply troubling.

The anger and despair of the Palestinians at the settling of foreigners in their midst is palpable. Many say they would be happy to have Jewish neighbours but not while they don’t enjoy the same rights or have the same sovereignty. Towards the end of my stay, one of the settler security guards in East Jerusalem shot and killed a Palestinian man. Rioting was widespread and it seemed clear to me the country was close to a third intifada.

Not long after that I left Jerusalem, but not before I visited Yair again. Once again I found him friendly, likeable, and yet profoundly lacking in perspective of how his national aspirations were trampling on the rights of millions of Palestinians.

With the very vague possibility of peace on the horizon, I asked if he wasn’t worried about being told to leave.

“If they want they can take me by power and I’m going to come back illegally,” he said. “This is our land. You can come and kill us and do whatever you want. We’re going to die for this country.”

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The weirdest encounter was with a group of American Christians who had volunteered to pick grapes at a West Bank vineyard. “It’s a labour of love for the nation of Israel,” said one. Like Daniel, they seemed incapable of viewing the situation as in any way complex. In general, when Theroux goes on one of his adventures one is forced to admire his daft, naive courage. In this case I was left admiring his patience.

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