Rabbi and leader of extremist group says he’s in favor of burning churches, in theory

Gopstein is known for his extremist positions on issues on the conflict with the Palestinians, Jewish intermarriage and homosexuality.

By
August 5, 2015 22:13
1 minute read.
Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein

Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein. (photo credit: ARIK SULTAN)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein, the extremist leader of the radical Lehava anti-assimilation and anti-missionary organization, said that he would support the burning of churches, in a panel debate Tuesday on idol worship.

The commandment in Deuteronomy to destroy idol worship in the Land of Israel was the main topic of discussion at the debate at the Wolfson Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Some rabbinic authorities, including the medieval scholar Maimonides, ruled that due to various aspects of Christian practice and theology, Christianity is idolatry.

Benny Rabinowitz, a journalist and editor with the Yated Ne’eman haredi (ultra-Orthodox) daily newspaper and a participant in the panel, asked Gopstein directly during Tuesday’s debate whether he is in favor of burning Christian churches in Israel.

In recordings obtained by the Kikar Hashabbat haredi news website, Gopstein is heard replying, “Are you against Maimonides or in favor of him?” Rabinowitz replied, “Don’t talk to me about Maimonides, I asked you what you think.”
Lehava's Meir David Koperschmidt slams homosexuals ahead of Jerusalem pride parade

Gopstein said, “For sure... Did Maimonides rule that you need to destroy or not? Idolatry needs to be destroyed.”

Following the publication of the recording of the conference, Gopstein issued a statement saying his comments were made only in the context of theoretical Jewish law.

“In a closed panel in Wolfson Yeshiva a debate arose on Maimonides’s opinion on Christianity. During the debate, I said that according to Maimonides one needs to destroy idolatry.

“I emphasized several times that I was not calling to take operative steps, but rather that this was Maimonides’s stance, and that this [step] would be incumbent on the government and not individuals.

“I understand that there is criticism of the right wing and [they] are trying to trap us for every word, but I would recommend that first an investigation be opened up into preachers in mosques or [MK Ahmed] Tibi or [MK Haneen] Zoabi.”

Gopstein is known for his extremist positions on issues on the conflict with the Palestinians, Jewish intermarriage, and homosexuality.

In July, Gopstein’s Lehava organization disrupted a conference of Messianic Jews in Jerusalem, during which two activists were detained for disturbing the peace.

Last week the group protested the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade – in which six people were stabbed, including Shira Banki, who died of her wounds – and regarding which Gopstein compared homosexuality to pedophilia.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

The traditional sail-by of the Sail Tel Aviv - Yaffo watersports festival
September 22, 2018
Celebrating the sea and marine sports in Tel Aviv

By JULIANE HELMHOLD