Meet Daniel Pinner - an Extremist West Bank Settler

He wrote a hate poem about Yitzhak Rabin, went to prison for shooting and injuring an Arab and is an admirer of Yaakov Teitel and Baruch Goldstein. Meet Daniel Pinner, an extreme right-wing activist from the settlement of Kfar Tapuah.

Daniel Pinner being led into court on December 29, 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

Daniel Pinner, whose monologue follows, lives in the settlement of Kfar Tapuah, which was founded in 1978 by a core group of members of Moshav Bareket belonging to the Hapoel Hamizrachi movement and is defined as a "religious communal" settlement. In 1990 Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane (the son of Meir Kahane, founder of the extreme right-wing Kach party, which was banned in 1994) moved there; he was murdered, together with his wife Talia in 2001, in a shooting on a highway south of the settlement of Ofra. Following the younger Kahane, others identified with the Kach movement moved to Tapuah. He headed a yeshiva there, and the entire settlement became known for its extremism.

In recent years, as a result of an expansion of the settlement, it is less identified with Kach, and at present it has mostly young families. The rabbi of the settlement, Rabbi Shmuel Cohen, is identified with the Shas movement.

Pinner says that he does not in fact officially represent the settlement in which he lives or the settlement movement. Some of his ideas have few supporters. He is not the leader of a community or an outpost. He is known on the fringes of the right, mainly to veteran activists. It is doubtful whether the youngsters who occasionally sing his song about Yitzhak Rabin (in which every stanza ends with the words: "He went to hell") even know who he is.

But there are dozens, if not hundreds more like Pinner, who represent only themselves; who believe in an ideology that is not the product of any yeshiva or any specific book. In that sense, his good friend, the suspected Jewish terrorist Yaakov Teitel, resembles him. Teitel is also not the product of an organized ideological or philosophical system, but picked up his ideas and his caprices here and there along the way.

Pinner was interviewed at his home a few weeks ago.

The spokesperson for Kfar Tapuah responded to this article as follows:

"The community of Kfar Tapuah has 170 families today, and has grown and developed over the past few years. The community has been transformed significantly on many levels and today residents are modest people, civil servants, army officers, farmers and educators who contribute to the community. In Kfar Tapuah there are no thought police and diversity of opinion is our strength. We try to be tolerant of views like those expressed in this article, with which most of us certainly do not identify, and even disagree."

Pinner's story

"My name is Daniel Pinner. I'm 43 years old and live in Kfar Tapuah. I'm an electrician, a dog trainer, a mechanic, a performer at weddings. I immigrated to Israel from England 22 years ago, because every Jew belongs in the Land of Israel. There's no complete Jew and complete Judaism outside the Land of Israel. When I immigrated to Israel I lived at first in Jerusalem. Ten years ago I moved to Tapuah.

"Jerusalem is all built-up asphalt. There you walk down the street and see a street that could be anywhere in Texas or in England. Here in Kfar Tapuah I see Nablus, where Jewish history began. From another side of Tapuah I see the Jordan Valley, the hills of Transjordan, which for now are under the illegal Hashemite occupation that was invented by Great Britain. I look at the other side and see the air pollution of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and I remember why I don't live there.

"I got married five and a half months ago. I was exceptional in being single for so long. Nobody believed I would marry. They said I was afraid of commitment. I said that I simply wouldn't commit to the wrong woman. And the fact is that I met the girl who is my wife.

"For 10 years I've had a dog named Cazador. It means hunter in Spanish. She's from a species developed in South Africa 100 years ago for hunting lions. I trained her in English, Hebrew, German and Arabic. They say: "To Arabs and dogs I speak in Arabic." She can distinguish between an Arab and a Jew. If I'm in the car and go in to get gas, if it's a Jew she barks when he touches the car. If it's an Arab she roars. I have no idea how."

Jack and I

"I knew Yaakov Teitel. [Teitel is under arrest on suspicion of being a terrorist]. Twenty years ago we were together at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. Afterward he helped me a little with my computer. I taught him a little Hebrew. I was in his house. He's nice, helpful. Generous.

"I know that the media report so many things that the Shin Bet security services said that have no connection to reality. They say a lot of things. They say that he reconstructed events, but I don't know whether he did or not. I was once interrogated by the police about setting fire to a Meretz headquarters in Jerusalem. I said, I'm willing to reconstruct, I'm willing to tell: I was standing there when I saw the newspaper headline. Not that I had any connection to it, but I can reconstruct what I experienced.

Baruch and I

"I knew Rabbi Kahane personally, I spoke to him, I attended his Torah classes. I was in his house once. He had a great influence on me. When you hear the truth and see the truth there are two possibilities: either to ignore it or to be influenced, and I didn't want to flee from the truth. I describe myself as a Jew who wants to observe Torah and mitzvoth and Rabbi Kahane had a great influence on me and I learned important things from him. When Rabbi Kahane was murdered I was in the army, I felt terrible. I felt that my mentor had been murdered. It was very hard for me to function that day. I asked for leave from my commander, without telling him the reason. I was at the funeral, in uniform.

"I knew Baruch Goldstein [an American Jewish settler who shot and killed 29 Muslim worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Purim, in February 1994]. We met many times. I first met him as a doctor in Kiryat Arba; afterward he would often visit the Jewish prisoners and I had at least two friends there: Nachshon Walls and Yoram Skolnik. I used to go to visit them and I would meet Baruch. We were in contact many times, we would coordinate when to come. That Purim I heard that a Jew had entered the cave and carried out a massacre and there were a great many casualties. My first thought was that it was a shame that instead of celebrating Purim, Goldstein would be busy with the casualties. When I heard it was Goldstein I was amazed, because he was very gentle, very quiet, very modest. The total opposite of violent. That was the last person I would expect to do such a thing. It wasn't a massacre, only one person was murdered, Goldstein. Since the State of Israel is a state of law, there is only one body allowed to declare that a person is a murderer, and that only in an official courtroom. Baruch Goldstein, may God avenge his blood, was not brought before a court, so it's impossible to say legally that he murdered. On the other hand, there's a death certificate that is an entirely legal document. It says there that the cause of the death of Baruch Goldstein is murder. Legally it is clear that he was murdered and it's impossible to say that he's a murderer. Had there been another 10 incidents like Baruch Goldstein, God forbid, and had there been another nine instances of Jews murdering Arabs - and I strongly oppose that - the intifada would have ended immediately and all the attacks by Arabs against Jews would have ended, and God forbid that Jews would have murdered Arabs.

"I knew Eden Natan-Zada, may God avenge his blood [an AWOL soldier who opened fire in a bus in the Arab town of Shfaram in April 2005]. Even a truly wicked Jew, who betrayed his people, and was murdered by an Arab - I would say: "May God avenge his blood" even about him, because it's a desecration of God's name for an Arab to murder a Jew. He was in Tapuah for a little while. I didn't know him so well. I really don't know what happened to him. There were many strange things. What was he doing with a weapon? There are so many questions. Like, how did he get to Shfaram? And if he wanted to kill Arabs then why there, when there are 150,000 Arabs here nearby? Why on a bus of all places? What I can say is that someone who wanted to tamper with evidence did a good job when he tied him up and threw him to the Arab riffraff.

"I knew Asher Weizgan [who murdered four Palestinians after the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005]. I had a business supplying dog food and he was a customer. That was all. I can't say much about him. He was in a bad state. But I can't judge a man who committed suicide in prison.

"I know hundreds of people. And these people are a small number of all those I know. If I take a list of the entire extreme left, like [Yariv] Oppenheimer from Peace Now, Tzali Reshef, Yossi Sarid, I assume that you know many of them. If I take all those who gave weapons to Palestinians, then every leftist knows many of them. That doesn't mean that he's connected to the act. Everyone has his own social circle. I know such people and if they were to put everyone who gave weapons to terrorists on trial, then half the residents of Ramat Aviv Gimmel would know dozens of people sitting in prison for collaborating in murder or treason."

Prison

"In Gush Katif there was an abandoned hotel on the Neve Dekalim beach. There was a plan to renovate the hotel so that the building would serve as a center of opposition to the mass expulsion from Gaza. In order to renovate the place they needed all kinds of workers - plumbers, electricians, house painters. I'm an electrician, so I was there. On Shabbat we walked together on the beach, I and my dog Cazador. Fifty Arabs attacked us with stones. I was armed with an Uzi so I fired two or three shots in the air in order to scare them away. They withdrew, I withdrew. I returned to the hotel. A few days later I returned to Tapuah and was arrested.

"They brought me to a Shin Bet office in Petah Tikva. There they interrogated me for 10 days, gave me the 'full terrorist treatment.' They imposed a total information blackout, the media were not allowed to report that someone had been arrested. I wasn't allowed to meet with an attorney. It was hard, but interesting. Very interesting mind games. They didn't torture me, I think that I tortured them with my answers. A guy who can't say three words without my correcting his grammar is a kind of torture. The interrogator would shout at me: 'If you understood how serious your situation is ...' and I would correct him. 'It's not: "If you understood" it's: "If you were to understand."' I hope that I traumatized some of them. By the way, in the interrogation I confessed that together with Avraham Stavsky I murdered Haim Arlosoroff. He said: "Ahhhh." [Arlosoroff, a Zionist leader, was murdered in Tel Aviv in 1933.]

"The cell in the detention center is 2 by 2.5 meters, it's stone like spritz [like stucco]; do you know the best thing about it? That you can scratch yourself against the wall and it's the best back scratching. There's one corner of the cell with a toilet. And next to it there's a sink; you push the button and it sprays water for 10 seconds. In one corner there's something like a chair glued to the wall, next to it a table and three mattresses. And the light is on 24 hours a day in the cell. On one mattress I would sleep, the second mattress I would fold to keep out the light and the third I leaned against the wall, where the toilet is, so my eyes wouldn't be on the toilet. They took away my watch. You don't know when it's day and when it's night. It bothered me, because I didn't know when the prayer times were. I could estimate according to the food what time it was. I can't tell you that it was a fun experience. But I can't say that I really suffered. I was at several more Shin Bet interrogations, but I prefer not to go into that.

"In the story from Neve Dekalim, some Arab named Nasser Wafi claimed that he had been shot in the foot. He brought a document that looked like a joke, in which it was stated that someone had come to the hospital claiming that he had been shot, that the entry wound and the exit wound were one centimeter in size. They put me on trial. We began with four counts: attempted murder, carrying a weapon without a license, carrying ammunition without a license and firing in a residential area. At the trial they changed the charge from attempted murder to injury with serious intent. They also eliminated the charge of firing in a residential area. It's ridiculous, because it was in the dunes. I had a license for a weapon, but the charge was that the license is valid only in Tapuah. I brought proof that I was once delayed by the police in the Old City in Jerusalem and was armed. I sued the police for false detention. The court asked whether I had a license for a weapon, and the court decided that the license was valid in Jerusalem.

"The Be'er Sheva District Court, the Honorable Judge Rachel Barkai, sentenced me to two years in prison. According to law, anyone who disparages a judge can expect imprisonment of up to five years. And I don't want to embarrass her. A more cynical person would say that this judge will want to be a Supreme Court justice, maybe the president of the Supreme Court, and if she wants to be promoted she is obligated to hand down decisions that the decision makers will like. But that's only someone more cynical than I.

"I was detained until the end of the proceedings, 10 and a half months in all. After the sentence I filed an appeal and submitted a request for a postponement, and surprisingly I was released. I was high, I was drunk, they made a huge party for me here. What I enjoyed most was the darkness in the house. In prison there's no total darkness, finally I could sleep. I was released until the appeal. And then they rejected the appeal and took me back to prison. They allowed me to return to prison after the holidays. The day after the holiday I received the news that my mother had died during the night. They postponed my return to prison by another two weeks. They took off a third for good behavior. And I was released."

Rabin

"On the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War I gave a Torah lesson from a historical point of view, as to what the greatest miracle in the war was. I said that the greatest miracle was that 10 days earlier the chief of staff collapsed, which enabled Ezer Weizman to plan the victory.

"I don't mention the name of Abu Yuval [referring to Yitzhak Rabin, the father of Yuval Rabin], on the same level that I don't curse and don't use dirty words. There's a Torah prohibition against mentioning the name of other gods. The Rabinists made a god of Abu Yuval, and I tend not to mention his name. Anyone whose entire worldview is to destroy Jews, which is a unique level, I say: 'May his name be erased' after his name. After the name of Abu Yuval I say: 'May his name be erased.'

"The killing of that man did not change much in the situation, because the government continued on the same path of cooperation with the terrorists. The government continued with the same Oslo agreements of death and murder. The left continued with the same murderous hatred against religious Jews and against Judaism in general. I was opposed to the murder when he was alive and I'm opposed to the murder after his death. I was opposed to the treason when he was alive and I continue to oppose it after his death. I was opposed to cooperation with terrorists and I'm opposed after his death. Even the killing of that man didn't change my mind. I was the only one in the country with a sticker saying: 'Haver, ata lo haser' ('Friend, we don't miss you'). That's not provocation. If it's provocation then: 'Proud to be a Jew' is also provocation. If the Rabinists are allowed to miss that man and to declare it in public, then I'm allowed too.

"As far as Yigal Amir [Rabin's assassin], I didn't know him. I'll tell you a joke: Two policemen were walking down the street. One asked the other: 'What do you think of Yigal Amir?' And the second one said: 'I think just like you.' So the policeman replied: 'In that case you're under arrest.'

"Had you asked me 16 and a half years ago whether a Jew could murder a Jew for ideological-nationalist reasons in the present sovereign State of Israel I would have said no. But after the Oslo death agreement, when I saw that not just any Jew from the street but the prime minister of Israel was cooperating in the most active way with terrorists so that they would murder Jews, after that I began to believe that a Jew could murder.

"In the past I wrote a song about an imaginary character that I invented for entertainment purposes only. And any connection or parallel between him and a real-life figure is only coincidental. The song begins like this:

He was born to be a great leader of a country

He was a courageous hero as a soldier in the Haganah

He fled from the battlefield and avoided war

He went to hell.

"That's a somewhat funny, somewhat amusing song. No more than that. No person's name is mentioned in that song. If someone decides to attribute the song to any prime minister, then he's the one who is using those unfortunate expressions to describe that man: murderer, traitor, informer, et al."

Occupation

"My mother of blessed memory fought in the Gadna, afterward she was in the Golani Brigade. She fought to liberate Sheikh Munis from the Arab occupiers who were there; she was 17 years old at the time. She described to me how it was in Sheikh Munis, that was two days after independence [in May 1948]. Today the area is called Ramat Aviv Gimmel, where the most extreme leftists live, including Mr. Shimon Peres [in Hebrew the acronym for Mr. Shimon Peres is ASHAF, the Hebrew term for the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization], and they dare to call me an occupier because I live in an area where there wasn't a single Arab. That same Peres, who never bore arms, dares to call me an occupier when he lives in a place that my mother captured. I grew up with the most devout Zionism.

"There is no Arab village and no Arab city in the Land of Israel, but only Jewish villages where Arabs are living for the time being. Nablus is not an Arab city but a Jewish one, a place where Arabs are living temporarily. [Former prime minister] Ariel Sharon said: "The fate of [the Gaza Strip settlement of] Netzarim is the fate of Tel Aviv," and I say that the fate of Nablus is the fate of Sheikh Munis. What my mother did to Sheikh Munis, what Ben-Gurion's Haganah did to Sheikh Munis, we will do to Nablus, as well as Ramallah and Bethlehem, and Hebron and Umm al-Fahm. Incidentally, Umm al-Fahm began in the 13th century, when Arabs came from Transjordan to settle there. They are the foreign settlers who came from outside the region.

"At the moment I have no problem with Arabs moving to Transjordan, although that is also the Land of Israel. I'm not looking to go to war to redeem the lands in Transjordan, but as long as the Arabs there are really in peace we won't try to realize our total right to be on those lands. If the Arabs of Umm al-Fahm move to Transjordan there will be peace, and they'll continue to be occupiers on our land.

"About eight years ago, an incident that I remember because I was involved in it, at the gate [in Kfar Tapuah] someone had ordered Tnuva. The Tnuva truck arrived with a driver and his assistant was an Arab. We didn't let him in and there was an argument there and we almost came to blows. We told him to come in, but without the Arab. The driver was embarrassed and I understood him. We told the driver, we'll bring people to take the merchandise, but the Arab isn't coming in. And we didn't let him in because that's the eyes and ears of the next terrorist, and now they're not here." W