Did it feel a little weird to you [to do patrols for training] in residential areas?No. At that point, I didn’t see Arabs as humans.
What does that mean? Can you elaborate on that a little, how you saw Palestinians at that time, in your head, as a soldier?I’d see them as enemies.
Where did that come from?From the religious background, that like [the Jews are] the chosen people and that kind of stuff. At some point, I met some people who were Kahanists (followers of Meir Kahane, a deceased Israeli politician who espoused Jewish supremacy and extreme racism against Arabs), and I was attracted to this bit about “we have to find a solution for the Arabs in the State of Israel, to expel them from the whole country.”
So you joined the army with a Kahanist mindset?Yes. I joined this battalion (Netzah Yehuda, a battalion designated for male soldiers from an ultra-orthodox background) not because I felt I couldn’t be religious everywhere in the army, [but] because I knew there was a lot of action there, and that its (political) opinions were exactly the same as...
And was it really like that?I discovered pretty quickly that I joined La Familia (the name of a group of Beitar Jerusalem soccer club supporters, known for their anti-Arab racism and fanaticism).
What does that mean?The whole company were friends of Beitar supporters, La Familia, and the whole way they talk. One of the first things they taught me there was to say that Hapoel (a rival soccer team) supporters are communist, motherfuckers, Arabs. It was one of the first things I learned there. In basic training already, on Fridays, when you sit down for the Shabbat meal, the song very quickly switches from “the people of Israel live on” (a traditional Israeli folksong) to “Kahane lives on.”
What, like a whole company?A whole company singing, [and] the officers stop it.
The commanders don’t sing.Not if there were company commanders there and that. Because the company commander didn’t like that kind of stuff.
And the platoon commanders more?Some were a little more easygoing. But it depends on what unit they were from. There were also songs like, “thank you very much Yigal Amir” and stuff like that (Yigal Amir assassinated Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin following peace talks with the Palestinians).
And in those days, it didn’t bother you.Yes. It was part of the atmosphere.