Lehava Leader Benny Gopstein Advocates Burning Churches & Mosques
|Church of the Multiplication of Loaves after arson by Jewish terrorists|
Imagine an Palestinian citizen of Israel were to advocate the burning of synagogues because that is what the Quoran demands, imagine the reaction. His feet wouldn’t touch the floor before he was in administrative detention. Zionist groups would queue up to denounce bloodthirsty anti-Semitic Arabs who bring on themselves Israeli ‘reprisals’. Politicians in the West – Clinton, Cameron et al. would join in the condemnations.
But in Israel the leader of the State-funded Lehava Group whose ‘charity’ receives half its income from the State, [see A strange Kind of Mercy, Ha’aretz 27.5.11.] is able to proclaim that because Christians Churches and Mosques are ‘idolatrous’ according to Maimonedes then they are legitimate targets for arson and destruction.
|Gopstein and Lehava Thugs|
The Jerusalem Post quotes a ‘Torah Professor’ one Rabbi HaCohen as saying that, apart from the fact that Christians aren’t considered as idolators (arguable) "Jewish halacha scholars always knew that you have to take into account not only formal halachot but also implications of the halacha on the whole Jewish people."
|nun contemplates the destruction at the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves on the Sea of Galilee|
Halacha is the Oral Jewish law and is the interpretation of the Old Testament. What he is saying is that even if Gopstein is correct, then the repercussions for Jews of such a policy would be attacks on Jewish religious buildings.
"Just imagine what will happen if we demolish christian holy sites in Israel - what will happen to Jews in Europe and America? If we do it to them, they will do it to us too."
Despite being urged to declare Lehava a terrorist organisation, Attorney General Weinstein has refused to take action on the advice of the Security Police, the equivalent of MI5, Shin Bet. If this was an Arab organisation urging the burning of synagogues, there would be no question that it would be declared a terrorist organisation.
When it came to the leader of the Northern Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, he made a speech supporting a Third Intifada and promptly received 8 months in prison for ‘incitement’. No such penalty is handed out to the dozens of inciters, not least those in the Israeli government, who incite against Arabs from one day to the next. In the trial of Raed Salah Jerusalem Post 3rd April 2014. Raed Salah’s speech, which was incidentally distorted to make it appear he was claiming that Jews ate at Passover the blood of children, a distortion which became apparent when the Zionist CST tried to get Raed Salah banned from Britain and the Home Secretary was left with egg on her face as the High Court ruled against her attempts to deport him. [see Sheikh Raed Salah gets 8 months forincitement to violence]
According to Judge Miriam Lump Salah “repeated the words ‘blood’ and ‘martyrs’ which can lead to violence, and there is a serious potential for explosiveness.”
Salah was convicted in November 2013 for a sermon he gave at Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood in 2007. In the speech, Salah urged supporters to start a third intifada in order to “save Al-Aksa Mosque, free Jerusalem and end the occupation.” Raed Salah’s real crime, of course, was advocating resistance to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and not being Jewish.
Bentzi Gopshtain, head of the Lehava organization, advocated burning mosques and churches at panel earlier this week
Adiv Sterman August 8, 2015, 1:41 am
The complaint against Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopshtain was filed in coordination with the Vatican, according to a Haaretz report Friday, and was formulated by a committee that included over 20 bishops and archbishops across Israel.
Gopshtain’s remarks during a panel debating Jewish religious law came against the backdrop of an arson incident at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in June. During the session, Benny Rabinovitch, a writer for the ultra-Orthodox paper Yated Ne’eman, asked Gopstein point-blank whether he advocated the burning of churches, according to a recording of the debate published Wednesday by the ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar Hashabat.
“Maimonides…,” Gopshtain started, apparently alluding to the rulings of the 12th-century Jewish sage, “you must burn [churches], are you against Maimonides or in favor of Maimonides?”
“Don’t tell me about Maimonides, I asked you what you say,” Rabinovitch replied.
“Of course I am,” Gopshtain said.
Later in the panel conversation, Rabbi Moshe Klein, the head rabbi of Hadassah Hospitals, addressed Gopshtain, saying, “Bentzi, just now they filmed and recorded you, and [if] that reaches the police you’ll be arrested.”
“That’s the last thing that bothers me,” Gopshtain can be heard saying. “If that’s the truth, then I’m prepared to sit 50 years in prison for it.”
Gopshtain later responded to reports that he advocated burning churches by saying, “The law is straightforward: Maimonides’ interpretation is that one must burn idolatry. There’s not a single rabbi that would deliberate that fact. I expect the government of Israel to carry that out.”
He told Kikar Hashabat, “I said that for speaking the truth, I am prepared to sit in prison. And I emphasized that I don’t burn and won’t go and burn churches.”
Lehava opposes homosexuality and the assimilation of Jews, and activists regularly rally against personal or business relationships between Jews and non-Jews, including outside wedding celebrations between Jews and Arabs.
In December, following the torching of a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem and his arrest on suspicion of inciting terrorism, Gopshtain said his organization does not act illegally and accused the Shin Bet security service of trying to frame Lehava to thwart its “holy work of saving the daughters of Israel.” In July, members of Lehava were convicted of the attack on the school.
|Lehava Chairman Bentzi Gopshtain is brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem on December 16, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)|
Earlier this week, an internal Shin Bet report concluded there was insufficient evidence to blacklist Lehava. The report came as a blow to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s efforts, with the security agency and legal experts, to build a case for banning the organization.
“The conclusion at this stage is that there is insufficient evidence to declare the organization illegal,” the Shin Bet told Haaretz in a statement Tuesday. According to the report, the security agency said it would reconsider its assessment if new evidence against the nationalist group emerges.
Three extremists suspected of involvement in Jewish terrorist activity targeting Palestinians were placed under administrative detention - imprisonment without trial - in the wake of the attack near Nablus.
Lehava’s Benzi Gopstein tells yeshiva panel that the Rambam’s ruling for destruction of idol worship is still valid.
Chaim Levinson Aug 06, 2015 2:03 AM
The leader of the extremist anti-assimilation group Lehava allegedly called for churches to be torched, at a panel held this week for yeshiva students. Benzi Gopstein said he is prepared to spend 50 years in jail for doing so, according to a report by the Haredi website Kikar Shabbat.
During the yeshiva intercession, known as bein hazmanim, many yeshivas hold summer camps for their students. These combine Torah study with other activities, like trips and panels to discuss current events. Kikar Shabbat obtained and posted a recording of such a panel at the Wolfson Yeshiva camp, at which Gopstein appeared along with Rabbi Moshe Klein, the rabbi of the Hadassah Medical Centers; Elad Deputy Mayor Tzuriel Krispal; and Yated Ne’eman journalist Benny Rabinovich.
The panel was debating whether Jews are commanded to eliminate idol worship, as the Rambam (Maimonides) states. After Gopstein responded affirmatively, Klein hastened to interject, “It is a mitzvah according to the Rambam, but in our times the answer is no.”
The issue generated an argument on the panel, with Gopstein defending his position that churches should be burned. In response to a question by Rabinovich as to whether he “is in favor of burning churches in the Land of Israel,” Gopstein answered, “Did the Rambam rule to destroy [idol worship] or not? Idol worship must be destroyed. It’s simply yes – what’s the question?”
Rabinovich pressed the issue, saying, “Benzi, I must say I’m really shocked by what you’re saying here. You are essentially saying we must go out and burn down churches. You’re saying something insane here.”
Gopstein replied, “What’s the question? Do you doubt it?”
When Klein warned him the panel was being filmed, and that if the recording should get to the police he would be arrested, Gopstein replied, “That’s the last thing that concerns me. If this is truth, I’m prepared to sit in jail 50 years for it.”
As the panel discussion unfolded, Rabinovich tweeted a message on his Twitter account: “I’m shocked to the core. I’m sitting at a panel right now with Benzi Gopstein, who says outright it’s a mitzvah to burn churches, and he is prepared to sit in jail 50 years for this.” Some of the yeshiva students who saw his tweet called him a “moser” (informer).
In response to the release of the recording, Gopstein said, “At a closed panel of the Wolfson Yeshiva, there was a halakhic debate about the Rambam’s approach to Christianity. During the debate I said that, according to the Rambam, idol worship must be destroyed. I stressed several times I was not calling to take operative steps, but that this is the Rambam’s approach and that it’s the responsibility of the government, not of individuals.
“I understand there’s a campaign against right-wingers and they are trying to catch us on every word. But I would recommend that they first investigate the preachers in the mosques or [MK Ahmad] Tibi and [MK Haneen] Zoabi. Then let them come to me,” Gopstein added.
The Israel Religious Action Center, the legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement, petitioned the High Court of Justice last October against Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein for not prosecuting Gopstein over previous inflammatory remarks and actions. It has been waiting for a response since January.
“For many months, we have waited for a decision by the attorney general regarding complaints against Gopstein for incitement to racism,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement. “If even these remarks don’t lead to a quick decision to prosecute him, we can publicly declare that Israeli law allows incitement to racism and violence. What else has to happen for the State of Israel to seriously fight those who have decided to ignite the fire of hatred and fanaticism?”
Jerusalem Post By TAMARA ZIEVE 08/09/2015 18:19
Letter filed to A-G urges action in face of "real danger to churches and Christian communities in Israel."The letter, filed by the Vatican's representative in Israel, Custodia da Terra Santa, to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, followed comments made by Gopstein last week in favor of burning down churches in Israel. Lehava is a radical anti-assimilation and anti-missionary organization which has stirred great controversy since its founding in 2009.
During a panel debate on idol worship last Tuesday, Gopstein cited Maimonides’s ruling that Christianity is a form of idolatry that needs to be destroyed, in accordance with the commandment in Deuteronomy to destroy idol worship in the Land of Israel.
Thus, in theory, Gopstein said he was in favor of burning churches in Israel.
The Vatican’s letter stresses that urgent action must be taken against Gopstein “in the face of real danger to churches and Christian communities in Israel” as a result of his remarks.
The move follows a complaint filed to the police on Friday by Father Pietro Felet, the secretary-general of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land. The complaint was filed on behalf of some 20 patriarchs and bishops to express concern over growing security challenges to Christian communities and their holy sites in Israel and the West Bank.
Father Felet mentioned in his complaint several attacks on Christian holy sites by radical groups, and hinted that in the vast majority of these incidents the perpetrators were not brought to justice.
Gopstein took to Facebook to react to the letter, saying that he “views with great severity” the Vatican’s “intervention in halachic discussions.”
“It’s time to remind the Vatican that gone is the censorship period in which they censored Jewish books,” he added.
He also lashed out at Benny Rabinowitz, a journalist and editor with the Yated Ne’eman ultra-Orthodox newspaper, who drew and recorded Gopstein’s inflammatory statements when he asked him directly whether he is in favor of burning Christian churches in Israel. Gopstein claims that his comments were only made in the context of theoretical Jewish law and that he was not calling for operative steps by individuals.
Senior adviser to the Catholic church in the Holy Land calls on the government to crack down on Jewish extremists
Avi Lewis August 10, 2015, 1:50 pm
|A priest inspects the damage caused to the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in what police suspect was an arson attack, on June 18, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)|
Vatican representative in Israel urged the government to take more stringent measures against Jewish extremists Monday, following a spate of verbal and physical attacks on Christian targets in recent months.
Wadiya Abu Nasser, a top adviser to the Catholic Church in Israel, urged Israeli authorities to clamp down on anti-Christian action and prevent further attacks.
“A red line has been crossed. Not only is property damaged, but now people too. Christian men of faith are spat on in Jerusalem,” Nasser told Army Radio.
“I hope that the government and relevant authorities deal with these phenomena in a meaningful way. They may be just a handful of [attackers], but we aren’t seeing any effective [measures against] them,” he said.
Nasser’s remarks came days after the Vatican City’s representative in Israel called on Jerusalem to indict the leader of an extreme right-wing group for inciting violence against Christian targets in the Jewish state.
The pope’s representative and leaders of the Catholic Church in Israel filed a complaint against Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopshtain Saturday, pressuring Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to indict him after he advocated the burning of mosques and churches in Israel at a public forum.
“The writing is on the wall, and the next [attack] that no one can foresee, is not a matter of if, but when,” a statement by the Vatican read, requesting that Gopshtain stand trial.
“The situation has become intolerable,” Nasser said. “Gopshtain isn’t the only one who incites. He simply marked himself. We are sure that this is a trend.”
Last week, at a panel debate on an arson attack at the Church of the Multiplication in the Galilee by Jewish extremists in June, Gopshtain intimated that Jewish law mandates the burning of Christian and Muslim houses of worship.
“Maimonides…,” Gopshtain started, apparently alluding to the rulings of the 12th-century Jewish sage, “you must burn [churches].” Asked if he was advocating the burning of churches, Gophstain responded, “Of course I am.”
Nasser said, “Even though suspects were arrested in the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, in others cases we remained silent and we got all kinds of promises that simply dissolved with time. We’re talking about tens of cases about attacks on people and property.”
Two Jewish suspects, both allegedly subscribing to an anti-Christian ideology, were indicted in July for their alleged role in the arson attack.
“I’m confident that the vast majority of Israelis — from every religion and creed — [condemn and oppose] these attacks,” Nasser said.
“We’re not asking for special treatment. At the same time, we don’t want less [protection] than others. This is for the benefit of the State of Israel — not just for the Christians, but for Muslim and Jews too. People who incite [to violence] deserve to be put behind bars,” he added.