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Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist

The Story of a Transformation
Harper Perennial
Publication Year


Now available in paperback for the first time, with a new introduction, the poignant and insightful memoir from Yossi Klein Halevi, the award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed Like Dreamers—a coming-of-age story about a traumatic family history, radical politics, and spiritual transformation that speaks to a new generation struggling to understand what it means to be Jewish in America.

The child of a Holocaust survivor, Yossi Klein Halevi grew up in 1960s Brooklyn perceiving reality through the lens of his family’s brutal past. Increasingly identifying with their history of suffering, he regarded the non-Jewish world with fear and loathing. Determined to take action—and seek retribution—he became a disciple of the late rabbi Meir Kahane and a member of the radical fringe of the American Jewish community.

In this wry and moving account, Halevi explores the deep-rooted anger of his adolescence and early adulthood that fueled his increasingly aggressive activism. He reveals how he started to question his beliefs—and his self-inflicted suffering as a hostage of history—and see the world from his own clear perspective.

As a journalist and author, Halevi has dedicated himself to fostering interfaith reconciliation. Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist explains how such a transformation can happen—giving hope that peaceful coexistence between faiths is possible.


“Stories of personal growth redeeming someone from hatred are not rare–Malcolm X’s autobiography is a notable example–but Klein Halevi’s is unique. The son of a Holocaust survivor, he grew up in Brooklyn and spent his young adulthood obsessed with the Holocaust. The fear that the Gentile world was completely hostile drove him into the company of such underground groups as the Jewish Defense League….Besides providing a rare glimpse into the insular world of small-time firebrands like Meir Kahane and his disciples, Klein Halevi’s narrative is quite moving. The account of his relationship with his father, his development as a journalist, and his recent visit to Holocaust-scarred Eastern Europe is compounded of a fine mixture of humor and pathos. One wonders who will portray Klein Halevi in the inevitable film treatment.
Aaron Cohen

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