Lehava head Bentzi Gopstein indicted for incitement to terror, racism

The indictment was submitted by the State Attorney’s Jerusalem District with the approval of the attorney-general.

Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein (photo credit: ARIK SULTAN)
Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein
(photo credit: ARIK SULTAN)
Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein, head of the Lehava organization, was indicted on Tuesday on charges of incitement to terrorism, violence and racism.
Lehava opposes personal relations between Jews and non-Jewish people, they gained media attention in the past for objecting to relations between Arabs and Jews.  
Gopstein was a Knesset candidate for the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party in the last election, but his candidacy was disqualified by the Supreme Court on account of his public racist remarks.
Among the comments for which Gopstein was indicted was his description of the Dome of the Rock monument on the Temple Mount as “a cancer,” and that as long as the “cancer” remained in place “the redemption will not come.”
The indictment was submitted by the State Attorney’s Jerusalem District with the approval of the attorney-general.
Gopstein was indicted for incitement to violence over comments he made to the media between 2012 and 2017, which amounted to calls for violence.
The indictment included an incident from 2012 when several Jewish youths physically attacked three Arab youths at Zion Square in Jerusalem.
“The police and the media are committing a lynch against these Jewish youths… every day Jewish girls are attacked by Arabs and they have no one to turn to,” Gopstein said in an interview with Arutz 7. “They turn to the police and the police don’t deal with it. It seems that these [Jewish] youths raised up Jewish honor from the floor and did what the police should have done; they did justice to these wild Arabs who harassed the Jewish girls.”
In another interview with what was then Channel 2 News, Gopstein was asked about violence in Lehava’s fight against intermarriage.
“Blows – there is no shortage of Arabs to go and beat them with blows,” he said. “I am not a pacifist. There are people who deserve violence… An Arab who is going with a Jewish girl, I don’t think that he needs to continue to go in the street with his Jewish girl.”
In another example provided in the indictment, Gopstein was quoted at the wedding of his daughter in 2013 as saying that it was a condition of his to ensure that there were no Arabs working at the events hall where the wedding was held.
“With us, we have the purity of Jewish labor,” Gopstein said in another interview with Channel 2 News. “Let’s just say that if there was an Arab waiter here, he would not be serving food; he would be looking for the closest hospital.”
In another incident for which Gopstein was indicted, the Lehava leader said at a memorial event for far-right leader Rabbi Meir Kahane that “the enemy amongst us is a cancer. The focus and the pinnacle of this cancer is in the head, the head on the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is the biggest growth of this cancer that we have found, and as long as the government of Israel does not come to its senses and take down this growth from the Temple Mount, we will not succeed in bringing the state to the complete redemption.”
In addition, he was indicted for publishing racial incitement, as well as support for and identification with acts of terrorism committed by Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinians in Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994.
Gopstein was also indicted for incitement to terrorism when in 2017 he attended a wedding where he sang a song, including the words, “Blessed is the man who entered the cave, cocked his gun and fired,” a reference to Goldstein.
While singing, Gopstein waved his hands at those dancing to his song to further encourage them, the indictment says.
Some of those at the wedding were wearing Lehava T-shirts, some had their faces masked, and some even waved knives or made a pistol gesture with their hands, according to the indictment.