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Everyone in the world of Israeli politics knows everyone else, which is especially true for Benny Gantz and Israel Katz. As told by, they grew up two houses away from each other in a village called Kfar Ahim, which was founded by Hungarian speakers.  They are both in both pole position to become leaders in Israel.

Located in South Israel near Asdód, Kfar Ahim became more well-known after the 2019 Israeli legislative election in April, in which the opposition Blue and White party, led by Benny Gantz, were able to equal the ruling Likud party’s 35 mandates.  A new legislative election held this year did not break the deadlock either.

In the right-winged Likud party, Israel Katz is the next in line to take over from President Benjamin Netanyahu.

But what is the village like where these two prominent politicians grew up in? Local resident Irén told that villagers found a community when they moved to Kfar Ahim – almost all of them came to Israel alone, meaning they relied on each other for help and support. Today around 80 families are living in the settlement.

Kfar Ahim was founded by a group of 8 Hungarian-speaking families who survived death and labour camps during the Second World War. They met on a ship travelling to Palestine in 1946, but due to delays they only reached their destination in 1948. Gantz’s parents were married in this period.

Source: Wiki Commons דוג’רית

The group were living in Tkuma, but they turned to local authorities to gain land and establish a new village after they were unable to settle their differences with other local residents.  In order to achieve their goal, they had to find 80 families who were willing to live in their new village. Gantz’s father went to immigration centres to recruit potential residents in the only languages he knew: Hungarian and Romanian. He was successful in his mission and Kfar Ahim was established.

Although everyone today speaks Hebrew, you can still hear Hungarian spoken here and there and the younger generation prefers to cook Hungarian dishes.

Kfar Ahim is an agricultural village even today, as local residents continue to keep livestock and farm the land around the settlement.

Since Israel Katz and Benny Gantz were neighbours, they used to walk home together and debate politics. Katz, who is the foreign minister, still lives in the village and his home is protected by armed guards. One of Gantz’s daughters still lives in their family home.

Both families still speak Hungarian; however the relationship between them is still discordant, which is understandable when considering both are influential individuals on opposing sides in Israeli politics.

This year we reported that Hungary has the highest number of Jewish descendants after Israel. We also told the story of a Hungarian poet who became an Israeli national heroine.



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