Ben Goldstein, a modern-day Samson, is a fierce protector of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. He has over 20,000 followers on Facebook and his most viral video had more than five million views on Facebook alone.
He’s already outfitted hundreds of IDF soldiers and officers with updated, armored supply vests that replaced bulky and outdated equipment. Through his Unity Warriors website, he raises funds to buy soldiers life-saving equipment such as upgraded helmets, medical trauma gear, state-of-the-art flashlights and much more.
Breaking Israel News sat with Goldstein to learn more about what powers his incredible passion for defending Israel.
The Early Years
Goldstein said he began life as “a redneck from Memphis.” Part of the third generation of Jewish Goldsteins born in Memphis, his family was there “way before Elvis.” And “Israel was always a key factor in our home, always a core focus.” One of the main principles young Goldstein was taught was to “always protect those who can’t protect themselves.”
He attended private Jewish schools where he studied Torah. Among his strongest memory of Shabbat (Sabbath) is conducting security patrols with his father. “In the 1990s, every week, walking to and from shul (synagogue) on Shabbat, there was blatant Jew-hatred,” he clearly recalled.
By the time he was a preteen, his destiny was made clear to him. “I wasn’t looking for trouble, I was just watching my environment, scanning. One day, a kid in the mall came up to me. I must have been 12. I was young.
“He was also young, but a little taller than me. He tapped me on the back in an arcade while I was playing video games and asked. ‘Are you a Jew? I hate Jews.’ He was maybe 15 years old and had never spoken to a Jew in his life.”
That experience galvanized young Goldstein. “Security became my thing, as of the age of 12.
This person thinks they are going to threaten me because I am a Jew? I learned quickly that if someone threatens you or your people, you don’t back down!
“I started wearing my kippa (yarmulke) every day after that. There was a calling at that age to be a warrior for the Jewish people. I learned the overriding aspect that there’s pride you have to have as a Jew.
“I became the guy who would be the barrier between me and younger kids. I would patrol the streets between two shuls on Shabbat. There was a magnet, pushing me in the direction of the protector of the Jewish people. I didn’t care about anything else.”
His first trip to Israel was for his Bar Mitzvah at age 13. “I was expecting gunfire when I got out of the plane,” he laughed. Instead, when he landed, what he most remembered was that “Everything was in Hebrew. Everything was kosher. The people were gorgeous. The weather was gorgeous. I saw two IDF soldiers at the Kotel (Western Wall). [From then on], I didn’t care about anything except going to Israel.”
On his 19th birthday, Goldstein enlisted in the IDF, fulfilling his “desire to join the first Jewish army since King David.”
The Goldstein Experience
In addition to providing much-needed gear for Israeli soldiers, Goldstein is a one-man PR agency for Israel. He’s taken dozens of families, individuals and tour groups on what he calls The Goldstein Experience. “It’s an experience with me. I’m not a tour guide. What I do is like a Jewish preacher on a hilltop that really brings people in and shows them Israel as the tree, the main trunk. There are dark branches that have no fruit on it. And there are many branches that are magnificent – some of the most magnificent people are simple Israelis.”
He takes people, “from anywhere in the world, any politics, any religion, and I show them what is happening here in reality. If you’re only going to the tourist sites, you won’t know the whole story. I show Israel through a realistic light, the light that it deserves to be seen in,” he enthused.
For many, Goldstein remarked, “this is the highlight of their trips. It’s all heartfelt passion and reality, backed up by what’s physically in front of you. That’s what I’m showing you.”
He emphasizes that The Goldstein Experience “is not a tour. It’s hard to explain to people the depth of connection that they will feel when doing this. I show them Israel as a base of unity so we can all have a common conversation and eat hummus together. The kids often end up inspired, wanting to join IDF.”
For those interested in an even deeper understanding, he offers a patrol experience, where individuals accompany him in his patrol vehicle and see with their own eyes what it’s like to view Israel from a security perspective.
When educating people about Israel, Goldstein pulls no punches. He gets into the politics, the reality of living in the same neighborhood as “a people whose coat of arms is the genocide of the Jewish people worldwide.”
Lest it seems all doom and gloom, it’s hard to imagine someone who loves Israel as much as Goldstein does. Among his favorite topics is “the majesty of what Israel really is, putting Israel in the light [in which] it should be shown.”
He emphasizes to Bible lovers that what’s occurring today in Israel is exactly what the Bible says. “Whenever someone flies to Israel, they are fulfilling prophecy by coming here on the wings of eagles,” he elaborated.
A Warrior in Transition
Goldstein has been impacted deeply by the Biblical sin of the spies who spoke against the land.
The sin of the spies was so grievous because it led to a lack of unity, a fracture within the nation. As a result of that lack of unity, the world is speaking lashon hara (evil speech) against our beautiful and precious land. Only through unity can we be restored.”
He has devoted himself to “showing Israel through a realistic light, the light that it deserves to be seen in. I am willing to put it all on the line!” he enthused.
“I’ve become a voice for Israel. When I do something, it has an impact, either protecting soldiers or showing Israel in the light it needs to be shown in. That’s my life. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be doing every day.
“I’m kind of a steamroller. This is my calling. It’s so obvious to me. I go on patrol every day. I keep my eyes open and report anything overly suspicious. That’s where I want to be. Because somebody has to do it and I’m in love with this land and our nation. I have to go to every corner of this land. I need to do this!” he said excitedly.
Goldstein’s incredible passion for supporting soldiers and defending Israel began to express itself in 2014 when three Israeli teen boys were kidnapped. He knew that soldiers would be flooding the area on a search-and-rescue mission. So out of his own pocket, he went to a corner grocery store in Hevron (Hebron) and bought them drinks and snacks from his own pocket. He single-handedly “walked from position to position in Hevron”, giving food to soldiers who were working around the clock to locate the boys. He ran out of money after a week or so.
Knowing he needed people to help with this, he posted a video of himself handing food to soldiers and people started sending him money. As his reputation grew, people began reaching out to him, asking him to get specialized gear to soldiers.
“That built up to me being someone who someone can WhatsApp to ask for certain gear that they may not get elsewhere. My number went throughout the IDF forces. I’ve got a hundred soldiers asking for specific gear that’s an upgrade of what they have. Officers contact me directly on behalf of soldiers who have a specific need.”
Who Helps Ben?
His motto is, “I see a void. I fill it.” Up until now, he has raised money on a case-by-case basis. That has left him 40,000 shekels (more than $11,000) in debt.
“The plan, as it is, cannot continue. I’m at a brick wall. I need help. I need an operating budget to show Israel properly on a much grander scale. I’ve had no budget for years. I’m not very good at asking, but good at giving.
“Who are these soldiers going to turn to if not me? My track record is all over social media. Who is going to be the voice of reality? Who is going to take care of the soldiers the way I do? This is my soul coming out to you! This is as raw as it gets.”
Goldstein needs $250,000 a year for a minimum of two years to fund his twin passions of outfitting soldiers with life-saving gear and educating people to see the light of Israel as he sees it. “I give my whole soul to this cause. I’m a guy on a hilltop talking the truth. Imagine where this could go if it was financed. I need people to realize that this needs to be supported,” he exclaimed.
“I can do this 18 hours a day. I love Israel! And I want to show this to people! Every corner of this land is filled with a different light.”
Crucial Christian Support
“I was born and raised in Tennessee with a church in every corner. We are living in a time right now where a hundred million Christians should stand shoulder to shoulder [with us]. I want them to be good Christians and brothers and sisters to the Jewish people, using Israel as a base of unity.”
When he speaks to Christians visiting the Gush Etzion region, as they stand on a hilltop overlooking Bethlehem, he will say to them, “Look at your shoes. They are very devout. Take these shoes off and box them up when you get home. The bottom sole of your shoe touched where King David touched. This is ground zero for Christianity. The dirt on the bottom of the shoes is holier than any other you will ever know.”
His vision is that Israel is “where all nations that respect us for being who we are have a place. We welcome them with open arms. We want them to walk the land and be ambassadors for Israel.”
He encourages Christian supporters to see themselves as “active, willing, grateful participants who have an opportunity to fulfill the prophecy of the return of the Jewish people to Israel. That’s a rare opportunity,” he offered.
To the Jewish people, he said, “Missionaries are a drop in the bucket compared to what’s happening around us. I’m not scared of any of that. It’s just static. Instead of being fearful, you have to train and strength yourself as a Jew, so you can answer them with strength, pride, and belief. We don’t have to hide anymore. We build each other day by day.”
To his entire audience, he asks, “It’s all our choice. Do we support Israel or do we not?”