Yehuda Goldberg was 16 years old when Israeli intelligence agents came for him. "They surrounded the house and knocked on the door—because they don't want you to jump out of the window," says Goldberg, 20, who has a pensive stare and wears the large yarmulke of the youth movement. "It was four or five in the morning. They came also four or five into the house."
The Israeli officers, from the Shin Bet—Israel's FBI—searched Goldberg's bedroom at his family's house in Kfar Tapuach. They found ammunition, explosives, and knives. He was given a suspended sentence and community service. Goldberg's father, Lenny—who emigrated from New York City in 1985—is proud of his son. "He was going hand-to-hand combat with soldiers," he says. "Our generation used to give cups of coffee to soldiers. The police found weapons in his room."
Goldberg doesn't want to reveal what he intended to do with the ammunition and weapons. "It's not weird to have such things in our area," he says. "Legally, it's not allowed. But every kid can get ammunition."
Soon after that arrest, the Shin Bet came to get Goldberg again, accusing him of involvement with a 19-year-old friend who, while awol from the Israeli army, had killed four Israeli Arabs and wounded nearly two dozen with his army-issue M-16 rifle.
The Shin Bet "had information that he was my friend," Goldberg explains, sitting on a plastic garden chair outside his home while his mother prepares Shabbat dinner. "They arrested me and two other kids. They held me in a chamber for four days, with the light always on. I don't have bathroom. They close my eyes with black glasses, put me in a chair with my hands behind my back."
Eventually the Shin Bet released Goldberg and he received a letter saying the case was closed.
Lenny and his wife and their eight children seem to be a welcoming, loving family. Lenny rents out inflatable castles and swimming pools in the summer months. It's quite a change from his life in New York, where he worked at J. Walter Thompson, a major advertising agency. His children don't bear much resemblance to the American kid Lenny once was. "They have more chutzpah. They're more brazen," he says.
When I meet the Goldberg family in January, Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza is reaching its end, and Lenny—who is not legally permitted to carry a weapon after a mid-nineties crackdown on Kahane supporters—is frustrated with the military's strategy, which involves sending soldiers into Gaza. Like many other hard-line settlers, Lenny is not hesitant to express views that most Israelis would consider abhorrent.
"I want them to bomb all of Gaza, even if they kill all the civilians," Lenny says. "You have to firebomb all of Gaza and not let one Jew get hurt."