I know I’m a little late to the sensation that is the BBC’s Louis Theroux, but I just watched one of his documentaries for the first time. Although everyone seems to be talking about his recent work on religious fundamentalists in Florida, I decided to watch the one on Ultra Zionists.
Theroux (as he is apparently wont to do) lets himself be taken around with an air of straight-faced naïveté to visit various settlements throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem by various Israelis who all agree on the idea that all land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River was given to Jews by God. The connector, though, is an Australian Israeli named Daniel Luria (pictured with Theroux above) who works for an organization, Ateret Cohanim, that uses foreign and Israeli money to buy up properties in Arab neighborhoods and villages in order to install Israeli Jews there. He also organizes tours of recently acquired East Jerusalem property (sometimes with Palestinians still living there) to prove that Jewish life unites Jerusalem.
The Palestinians Daniel has doing construction at his home in the settlement of Ma’ale Adunim to prepare for the feast of the tabernacle are perplexing to Theroux, who comments, “in a sense, they’re building themselves out of existence.” Daniel disagrees with this, saying that Khamis, the Palestinian worker, “knows that life is good under the Jews.”
Daniel sees his work as a continuation of the war of 1948, “a war of survival for the Jewish people.” For him, it’s either continually settle the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or “pack our bags and go back to the ovens of Auschwitz, go back to the shores of Australia.”