In order to conduct my research I accompanied the followers of Gush-Emunim wherever they decided to go. I looked at them closely, had lengthy talks with them and thoroughly read the materials they had memorized by heart.
Written By Prof. Gideon Aran
As time went by, we became friends. I earned and gained their trust even to a point in which I almost became an integral part of the movement myself. There was this one time when a marital ceremony of one of the community’s leaders had to be kept secret and so they felt comfortable enough to hold the wedding at my house (as long as I agreed to remove Leonardo Da-Vinci’s Santa Ana painting off the wall).
I conducted extensive 24/7 field work for over two years. This field work included standard as well as participant observation, open in-depth interviews and analysis of both available texts and documents. The research took place at daytime and nighttime, especially at night. It took place during weekdays and holidays in houses, roads, offices and particularly in packed Houses of Learning (aka “Beit Midrash), rugged mountains and threatening Kasbahs.
I’ve been there when they celebrated with their families and when they patrolled around their settlements.
I took part in their internal discussions, in the meetings they had with their friends and foes alike and also participated in both demonstrations and in covert operations. I even studied Torah alongside them and at times some of the leaders of the community even noted, that they see me more often than they see their own wives. Till this day I don’t know whether it was a joke or rather a complaint. I even had the privilege of having two private and long conversations with Rabbi Kook himself. Some of the followers envied me because of that.
Taken from Kookism: The roots of Gush Emunim, Jewish Settlers’ Subculture, Zionist Theology and Contemporary Messianism.