I know Mike Guzofsky (Yekutiel Ben Yakov) a long time. How long? Almost 28 years. I met him at the Salute to Israel Day Parade in New York back in the spring of 1991. He had come in from Israel with the late Binyamin Zev Kahane z”tl who was going to lead the NY supporters of his recently assassinated father, Rabbi Meir Kahane z”tl in the march of the Kahane movement in the parade. When I was introduced to him, he was too busy to give me the time of day. He never stopped moving, giving instructions, answering the press, etc.
Over the years I got to know Mike very well. He ran Jewish self-defense camps in upstate NY. He fought alongside other activists in the Crown Heights riots against the Chabad Lubavitch community in the summer of 1991. He led the most effective American demonstrations against the Oslo Accords. He ran a Jewish Identity Center with Torah lessons, self-defense classes, and Zionism specially focused on Aliya. He often fought with anti-Semites around the U.S. when Jewish groups with hundreds of millions of dollars of funding were nowhere to be seen.
Mike Guzofsky was born in Far Rockaway NY in 1964. After graduating high school in 1982 he made Aliya to Israel, did some army service, and spent most of his time learning from Rabbi Kahane and being one of his closest assistants. When the Rabbi was assassinated by an Arab terrorist in a NY hotel after giving a lecture on November 5, 1990, Mike assisted Binyamin Zev Kahane in continuing his father’s work. This meant Mike had to move his family to New York in order to run the organization’s American office and help organize support for Binyamin’s work in Israel including the Yeshiva in Kfar Tapuach in the Shomron.
Suddenly, one Sunday morning in December 2000, the news in Israel was devastating. Binyamin Zev Kahane and his wife Talia were shot to death by automatic rifles near the settlement of Ofra on their way back from spending Shabbat in Jerusalem. 1 of their children had been dropped off at school just prior to the shooting and the other 5 children were in the family van during the attack, but they all survived as orphans.
Mike immediately went back to Israel. This was during the 2nd intifada. Terror was running rampant as Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority had begun an unprecedented terror war against Israelis a couple of months earlier. Mike went back to live in Kfar Tapuach where he had been living before going back to the States. The roads around the settlements were now fraught with danger. Terrorists were growing bolder by the day. Infiltrations into settlements were becoming more common. With the Israeli gov’t unable or unwilling to rip up the Oslo Accords and completely disarm the enemy whom they themselves armed, Mike established the Israel Dog Unit.
Like all of Mike’s previous projects, he went from being a complete Novice at caring and training dogs to becoming the ultimate expert. Beginning with a couple of security dogs and no kennel, the Israel Dog Unit today has 4 kennels across Israel. Now 18 years since inception, the Unit owns over 30 dogs and provides follow up training for an additional 65 dogs under the ownership of several settlements and some individual families. Over the years, some 350 dogs were placed around the country from the Dog Unit.
The Unit uses mainly dogs from the Belgian Malinois breed. From every litter of 5 or 6 puppies from top quality parents, usually 1 has the potential to be a top service dog. There are dogs that are trained for guarding and there are dogs that specialize in search and rescue. Some of the dogs are multi task and are used for search and rescue as well as for guarding.
In Israel the Dog Unit has been regularly in the news both in the Hebrew and English media. The Unit has found many people that the police and no other service groups could find, saving many whom were assumed dead or destined to die. In many other cases, the Unit has found bodies of those who were missing for longer periods, allowing their families and loved ones to put closure to their cases and bury them properly with respect.
Several peripheral communities using the Unit’s dogs have successfully discouraged terrorist infiltrations. The cunning and evil terrorists have proven that gates, fences, electronic surveillance, etc, can still be penetrated with deadly results on innocent Jews. Mike sincerely believes that many of these attacks could have and would have been prevented had the Unit’s dogs been guarding those communities where the tragedies occurred.
The Unit does a lot of other great things including training and utilizing the services of several lone soldiers who don’t have family to go to on their days off. On their time off they go to stay in Tapuach and are trained and ready to volunteer for the Unit.
The Unit has also provided short term security in crime ridden neighborhoods. In one Jerusalem neighborhood, the Unit sent several dogs and handlers who foot patrolled the neighborhood for an entire Shabbat. It was the 1st Shabbat in a long time that there were no reports of robberies or muggings.
The Unit is endorsed by several leading rabbis including Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba/Hebron, some police captains, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, and more.
In between his non-stop dedication to the Dog Unit, Mike somehow completed his Israeli law degree and helps prepare appeals to free or lower the sentencing for mainly young Jews incarcerated for Nationalist motives. In addition, he often takes in many of the Shomron Hill Top Youth when they come around in need of a shower, or a hot meal.
Over the years I have tried to help the Unit whenever possible. Before I lost my kidney functions, we used to purchase and prepare food for the staff and many volunteers in the unit for a full week each time.
Recently, I was invited to a management meeting of the Unit. I came away from the meeting with the conclusion that the Unit is one of the most important organizations in Israel today and is in great demand. I also summarized the financials of the Unit and can say that it is truly a miracle how the Unit has functioned with so little money allocated for salaries, as there are 200 volunteers registered across the country. Mike is living in Tapuach next to the main kennel in a converted storage container measuring 2.5 meters x 6 meters, roughly 8 feet by 20 feet. Their vehicles are all older and in need of regular maintenance. There are more and more people ready to train to be stationed all over the country but too often one issue is put aside in order to pay to maintain the 24/7 always on call service.
While we can debate and argue about why the government of Israel isn’t doing all that needs to be done to eradicate terror in the Holy Land, the current situation demands that the Dog Unit not only be maintained but expanded to save more Jewish lives and prevent more successful terror attacks, G-d forbid!
With this in mind. I decided to do a relatively short trip to promote the Dog Unit to the North American Jewish community. I sincerely believe that after going to our website at www.byisrael.net and seeing the videos and reading the media articles, you will feel inclined to support the Israel Dog Unit. My objective for this trip is to encourage as many people as possible to sign up for monthly donations. To commit something every month. If thousands of Jews will commit to monthly amounts by credit card, even modest amounts, the Israel Dog Unit won’t only be sustained, it will thrive and grow, and you will know that you have been a partner in saving Jewish lives.
If you wish to donate monthly online please go to: www.byisrael.net
To send U.S. tax deductible (50lc3) checks:
Friends of B’Ahavat Yisrael
4809 Avenue N, PMB # 284
Brooklyn, NY 11234
If you wish to host me for a parlor meeting or community event during the month of February please contact me:
Joel Yosef Busner
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