A Knesset Interior Committee meeting on anti-miscegenation organization Lehava’s harassment of Jerusalemites erupted into pandemonium over the NGO’s chairman Benzi Gopstein’s attendance on Tuesday.
In addition to opposing marriages between Jews and non-Jews, Lehava, whose name is a Hebrew acronym for “Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land,” publicly shames Jews who rent homes to Arabs and opposes employing Arabs. In 2014, three members of the organization were charged with arson and vandalism of a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon weighed classifying Lehava as a terrorist organization earlier this year. Gopstein, a disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahane, was arrested on suspicion of incitement and racist violence in 2014.
MKs Michal Rosin (Meretz), Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union), Oren Hazan (Likud) and Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) initiated the discussion on “Lehava’s activities against Jerusalem residents.” On Monday, when Rosin and MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) found out Gopstein was planning to attend the meeting, they wrote letters to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon and Knesset Security Officer Yosef Griff, demanding that he not be allowed in, to no avail.
Rosin read a list of violent events in which Lehava was allegedly involved, including a letter from the owner of the Roladin café in Mamila who said the organization’s activists attacked his workers last month.
Rosin turned to Gopstein: “You are sitting here with your smile. Children are spitting on people! Is that a Jewish education?”
“You’re here on borrowed time,” Hasson said to Gopstein. “You will be in jail, and most of your days will be spent in prison, and you really do not have a right to be part of Israeli democracy. Nothing you do is legitimate. It has no justification.”