Ben Ammi Ben-Israel discusses his death, future

By Robert "Rob" Redding Jr.

Editor & Publisher

Jan. 1, 2015, 5 p.m. - When Ben Ammi Ben-Israel sat down with Redding News Review almost a decade and a half ago it was an important interview about the future of his African Hebrew Israelites.

Ben-Israel, who is the founder of the settlement of vegan and polygamist practicing blacks living in Israel since 1969, was already in his mid-60s. He died at the age of 75 on Saturday, without an apparent plan of secession.

When he was interviewed live on air during a trip to America in October of 2002, the thin vegan assured listeners that the settlement would continue after his death.

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Here is the transcript:

"My question: What are the provisions within the community, to take care of the community, should something happen to you?

"Response: No…again Rob, it is the spirit that beckoned it. My people are well taught. My people – I have infused in them – this truth; my flesh is of no significance. It is the word that I speak, the truth that I speak, that is deeply imbedded in their souls. So I take on many forms and fashions today; because I am simply a word. I am a doctrine; I am truth. And this truth has come, not a flesh. I cannot in the flesh – I am flesh, blood, and spirit – but it is the spirit I possess; the spirit the ancient prophets possess, that is of such significance to the redemption of our people!

"My follow up question: So will that be reincarnated in someone else? Or is there someone who is going to take control of the community? What happens to the community in the event of your death? I do not understand your answer…

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"Response: No…there are no plans for my death, first of all. Even in the course of our teachings, because death is not our friend. We are in war against death, simply because the promise in the beginning was eternal life. If by chance I would be called to be with the fathers, then The God of Creation would have to designate – it won’t come by vote, like in liberal democracy; he would have to make the decision as to who it would be that would take my place. I have no plans to retire, or make my transition.

"My final follow up: I am sure you don’t…I understand the designation has to take place, but doesn’t that risk parts of the movement branching off, because there’s no selection?

"Response: Absolutely not. This is not that kind of a movement. You see we have come in harmony with Daniel, the second chapter, in the 44th verse. I had to return to the promise land, according to the will of God, in a vision that came in 1966, to establish the long awaited Kingdom of God. You see I am here on this Earth as a representative of another king that is much greater than I – The King of the Universe! So, this is not a movement, this is not a cult, this is not a sect…this is the prophesized Kingdom of God, in its inception!" 

Well, Ben-Israel will be memorialized this Sunday in a ceremony held in Dimona. His four wives, dozens of children, more than two dozen grandchildren, more than a dozen great grandchildren and thousands of followers are all expected to mourn his passing.

Still, the future that lies ahead will be the ultimate test of his legacy and vision.


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