Over the past few weeks, a video has gone viral of a man named Yaakov Fauci, in a New York accent, asserting to a Palestinian woman whose house that he has forcibly taken, “If I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.” The video has prompted global attention towards the violent dispossession occurring in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Fauci’s candor has exposed the blatant ugliness of the forced removals of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, as well as the broader cruelty of the Zionist project that similarly stole homes from Palestinians, expelling and displacing them from 1948 to 1967 up until today to establish the modern state of Israel.
Interestingly enough, despite introducing himself as Jacob, Yaakov’s name is actually Justin. A search of Yaakov Fauci turns up an alias for a man from East Meadow, New York named Justin C. Fauci.
Moreover, the directory lists family members including Rhonda Fauci, who is his mother. Rhonda Fauci goes by Ronni Fauci on Facebook, and lists Yaakov Fauci as a family member of hers while also referring to him as Justin in some Facebook posts.
Justin Fauci graduated from East Meadow High School in Long Island in 1997, and subsequently from Brandeis University in 2002, per the school’s database. In 2003, a Justin C. Fauci of Long Island, was found to be engaging in forex fraud, and federally charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States government.
One blog post indicates that Fauci and his partners were able to accumulate nearly $110 million from the fraud, and that Fauci once set fire to $10,000 in cash as a show of how much money they were accruing.
It is likely that Fauci served time in prison as a result of his crime, though it is not known for how long.
Not much is known about Justin Fauci in this period between 2003 and 2009. It is possible that much of this time was spent in prison. Following that, Fauci, through the help of the US settler organization, Nahalat Shimon International, moved into the home of Nabil El-Kurd and his family, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
In an interview with Vice, Justin Fauci strangely introduced himself as “Jacob,” the English translation of his Hebrew name, “Yaakov.” He is evidently going by Yaakov and Jacob now, putting the name of Justin behind him.
Fauci described his move to the neighborhood as “a long story” and asserted that he was not there to “keep Palestinians out” but rather “to keep Jews in it.”
He stated that “[Palestinians] are not coming back into here, so whether I am here, whether I am not here, whether it’s me, whether it’s someone else, whether it’s a monkey, whether it’s a giraffe, they’re not coming back into this house ever.”
Support for Far-Right Extremism in the US and Israel
Much attention has been given to Fauci’s support for former US President, Donald Trump. Trump was obviously avid in his support for settlers such as Justin Fauci. Fauci has also decried covid lockdowns and vaccinations, and denounced requiring a vaccine passport as apartheid. Ironically, Justin Fauci has not extended the notion of apartheid to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, a claim made by Human Rights Watch, the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, Desmond Tutu, and the Cyril Ramaphosa, the current President of South Africa.
In addition to support for Trump and covid conspiracies, Fauci has also supported the far-right, fascist, Rabbi Meir Kahane. Fauci has shared quotes and articles from Kahane on his Facebook page.
Meir Kahane was a Brooklyn-based Rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League(JDL) in 1968. Kahane advocated that each and every single Jewish person migrate to Israel, that non-Jews not be allowed citizenship in the state of Israel, and that Israel annex the West Bank and Gaza, and expel the Palestinians living there. Kahane asserted that “Zionism and Democracy are at odds. I say clearly I stand with Zionism,” and that “the idea of a democratic Jewish state is nonsense.”
Kahane’s organization was eventually declared a terrorist organization by the FBI after JDL members attempted to murder Alex Odeh, the head of the Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee in 1994, and Congressman Darrell Issa in 2001.
Another follower of Kahane was Baruch Goldstein, a Brooklyn-based doctor who, in 1994, murdered 29 Palestinians and injured 125 more while they were praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron. At the funeral of Goldstein, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, another Kahane follower, asserted that “one million Arabs are not worth a single Jewish fingernail.” Those in the crowd responded to Perrin’s dehumanizing declaration by chanting “We are all Goldstein. Arabs out of Israel.”
Goldstein was subsequently buried across the street from Meir Kahane Memorial Park right outside of Hebron. His gravesite has become a pilgrimage site which has been visited by tens of thousands of people. His grave read that he “gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah, and its land.”
Kahane migrated to Israel in 1971, and founded the Kach Party. Kahane’s Party was banned from participating in Israeli elections in 1992, after the Kach Party supported a grenade attack on butchers in East Jerusalem.
Following statements supporting Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of Palestinians in Hebron, the Kach Party was completely banned in Israel in 1994. The Otzma Yehudit Party emerged in 2012 as the ideological inheritor of Kahane’s Kach Party. Interestingly enough, Justin Fauci has expressed support on his Facebook page for the Otzma Yehudit Party. Below is a profile picture of his with a banner that displays the logo of the Otzma Yehudit Party.
The Otzma Yehudit Party was founded by Michael Ben-Ari, who prides himself on being an avid follower of Meir Kahane. Ben-Ari has notoriously carried on Kahane’s message of opposing the citizenship of any non-Jews within Israel. Ben-Ari has organized far-right protests in Israel calling for the expulsion of African migrants to Israel. Ben-Ari’s protests were joined by politicians across the Israeli political spectrum, who made statements referring to African immigrants as a “cancer” who “emit a bad stench” and are “likely to cause all kinds of disease.”
When asked why he felt that Africans were such a threat, Ben-Ari stated that “Our country is different from other countries. Our country is a Jewish state…A Jewish and democratic state. It’s a very delicate balance. In some cases, the two contradict each other. If you bring in a million Africans, it will no longer be Jewish. We are waging war against the phenomenon of assimilation.”
Ben-Ari has also followed Kahane in arguing that most Palestinians should be expelled from Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. He has also called left-wing Israelis “germs” and “enemies of Israel.”
The Otzma Yehudit Party faced criticism in the 2012 Knesset elections for displaying an ad which included the word, “loyalty” in Arabic with the Hebrew caption,”Because without duties, there are no rights.” The Israeli Central Elections declared the ads racist for insinuating that Palestinian citizens of Israel must be loyal to the Israeli state in order to receive rights, and subsequently banned the adds. The Israeli Supreme Court later ruled in favor of the party, and allowed the ads to continue.
On his Facebook account, Fauci also supported Aryeh King’s “United Jerusalem” faction for Jerusalem City Council. King, the current Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, has been very supportive of settlers and Kahanists. In the face of recent protests against Israeli settlers, such as Justin Fauci, violently dispossessing people of their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, many protests occurred.
In the wake of these protests, Israeli police shot Palestinian activist and protestor, Mohammed Abu Hummus in the lower back. Aryeh King, the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, witnessed this incident live and mocked Abu Hummus, telling him that it was a pity that he was not shot in the head. As he said this, King was standing next to two followers of Meir Kahane, Bentzi Gopstein, and Member of the Knesset, Itamar Ben-Gvir.
In many ways, Justin Fauci may come across as a goofy face of evil. He moves his hands a bit too much when he speaks and is perhaps a little bit too open about the settler-colonial nature of his project. He is out of the ordinary in the sense that one would not expect every settler in East Jerusalem to say “If I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.”
But behind that aloof character is an utter lack of regard for the humanity of the Palestinians’ whose homes that he is stealing. It is critical to trace what created that lack of regard. It is well-known that Israeli society is thoroughly racist. In 2014, the former President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, declared that Israel is a “sick society” after there was an escalation of vigilante violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem laughing at a protestor shot by Israeli police too speaks to this “sick society.”
But what is noteworthy about Justin Fauci is that he did not grow up in Israel. He grew up in Long Island. He studied at Brandeis University. He was involved in American Jewish communal activities. He likely worked as a financial broker, and possibly spent time in American jails. If an American from Long Island were to join a militant or extremist group, we would ask the question: What radicalized him?
In the case of Fauci, we too must ask the same question: What radicalized him? How dehumanized are Palestinians in mainstream American discourse that someone can grow up for nearly three decades in the United States, embrace the teachings of Meir Kahane and Michael Ben-Ari, and think that it is okay to do this to someone? Fauci is also not an isolated incident. Meir Kahane was an American. Baruch Goldstein was an American. What exists about the way that our country views Palestinians that some of the most violent, deadly, and pernicious figures who terrorize Palestinians come from the United States?
In many respects, the communal spaces that Fauci lived his life through are responsible for what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah to this day. For everyday that Justin Fauci remains in the home of the El-Kurd family, the communal spaces that Fauci lived in are responsible for indoctrinating him to ignore the basic humanity of the Palestinian people, and their right to dignity and justice. Many see the Israeli occupation as an international issue very far away, but what Justin Fauci, in all of his aloofness shows, is that Israeli occupation is a fundamentally American issue.