Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Israel’s Toleration of the Arson at Mosques and Churches

Israeli Government Refused to Arrest Lehava Leader Benzi Gopstein for his call for burning Churches and Mosques

One of the many myths about the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ is that there is, unlike anywhere else in the region, complete freedom of worship.  This belief is particularly common amongst the more stupid fundamentalist Christians of the USA’s Bible Belt .

In fact Jewish Orthodoxy holds Christianity in even greater contempt than it does Islam.  Zionism today, for purely pragmatic reasons, viz. the support it gets from the United States, keeps this quiet.  If medieval Christianity was anti-Semitic then Judaism was anti-Christian. 

In 2012 Michael Ben Ari, a far-Right member of the Knesset and Jewish Union gave vent to his hatred when he tore up a copy of the New Testament and threw it in a dustbin.
The results of the destruction of a Church
Contrary to the myth of the Judeo-Christian heritage (a modern invention with no basis in history) Maimonedes, the ‘Rambam’ held that Christianity was far worse than Islam.  The Talmud is full of invective against Jesus, the son of god, a blasphemous concept in itself.  A Jew can pray in a mosque (for example the Hebron settlers pray in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque which they fool themselves is the Cave of the Patriarchs) but they are forbidden to pray in a church.  See also Pray in mosque, rabbi rules

Today in Israel both religions are hated with about equal venom.  Apart from specific legislation such as the recent Muezzin Law [Israeli ministers to ban use of speakers for Muslim call to prayer due to 'noise pollution'] or the banning of the Northern Muslim League, there is an atmosphere of hate and distrust of anything other than the Orthodox Jewish religion.  Reform and liberal Jewry is tolerated, although Reform Jewry with its equality for women is not considered properly Jewish.

This why there has been a wave of arson attacks against churches and mosques.  It is also why Benzi Gopstein, leader of the Kahanist fascist group Lehava, can get away with a call for the burning down of churches and mosques.  When you consider that Israel has gaoled and held under house arrest for the past 18 months an Israeli Palestinian poet, Dareen Tatour, for talking about resistance in poems put on Facebook you can imagine what would have happened if a Palestinian had called for the burning down of synagogues.  They would have been gaoled and the key would have been thrown away.  You would have the Luke Akehursts and other Zionist propagandists talking about Arab hatred etc.
Far-right Kahanist MK Ben Ari rips up a copy of the Christian Bible - no action was taken against him by the Knesset (unlike the suspensions of Palestinian MKs)

Yet Gopstein has never been prosecuted.  The Vatican has called for him to be arrested and charged but in Israel, a call for racial discrimination on the grounds of religion is not a crime (unless committed by a Palestinian in which case it is ‘terrorism’).  Rome - Vatican Calls On A-G To Indict Extremist Jewish Leader Following Endorsement Of Burning Churches

The article below shows how there has been a complete disinterest on the part of the Israeli Police who have refused to treat the wave of attacks on Christian and Islamic religious buildings seriously.  No attempt has been made to try and tackle those behind the wave of attacks on churches and mosques.  Below that is an article from Ha’aretz on what happened when an Israeli fascist calls for arson of other than Jewish religious buildings – nothing.

Tony Greenstein

Israel doing nothing to stop attacks on churches and mosques

Stained glass and a statue of the Virgin Mary were among the items destroyed in the latest attack on St. Stephen’s church at Beit Jamal, west of Jerusalem. (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)
Since 2009, at least 53 churches and mosques have been vandalized in present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The vast majority of those cases – 45 – have been closed without any charges against perpetrators.
In all, there have been just nine indictments and seven convictions, according to Israeli government data reported by the newspaper Haaretz. Only eight of the cases remain under investigation.
MK Ben Ari hard at work
They were usually dismissed on the grounds of unknown perpetrators.
A lawmaker raised the matter in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, at the request of Tag Meir, an organization that monitors racially motivated crimes.
According to Haaretz, public security minister Gilad Erdan wrote to the lawmaker that the attacks “were perpetrated from various motives, ranging from negligence through mental illness and, in extreme cases, incidents of arson that appear deliberate.”
The newspaper noted that Erdan’s assertion “seems to contradict the fact that most of the cases were closed on the grounds of ‘perpetrator unknown.’
Moreover, according to Haaretz, all the cases involved arson.
The name of the organization Tag Meir is a play on the Hebrew words tag mehir – or price tag – the term Israeli settlers and extremists have adopted to describe their sometimes lethal attacks on non-Jews and their property, especially Palestinians.

Third attack

In the most recent attack, on 20 September, vandals shattered a statue of the Virgin Mary, broke stained glass and destroyed a cross in St. Stephen’s Church in the Beit Jamal Salesian Monastery west of Jerusalem.
“I was shocked,” the church’s caretaker Father Antonio Scudu told the Catholic News Service. “I didn’t expect to see something like this. The church is always open. If you see what happened, you feel they did it with hate. They smashed everything.
Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s senior cleric in Palestine, said, “this is not only an act of vandalism but an action against the sacredness of the holy places and the faith of people.”
This was the third attack on Beit Jamal in the past four years, but no arrests have ever been made.
Wadie Abunassar, adviser to the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, condemned the desecration in a post on Facebook .
We are fed up with repeated attacks on holy places,” Abunassar stated, adding that “anger is not only directed at the aggressors,” but at Israeli authorities which have failed to deal with the phenomenon.
Abunassar told The Electronic Intifada that there was growing public frustration at how the police deal with the incidents, given the small number of cases that have been resolved.

Unchecked incitement

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld has claimed that the incidents are unconnected.
“There have been arrests in previous cases,” he said. “We are looking into this case to see if it was an individual or a group. These are all separate cases.”
While Abunassar does not know if the incidents are done by individuals connected to each other, he points to constant incitement by extremist rabbis inspiring such actions.
He added that these right-wing preachers are not “sufficiently deterred by Israeli law enforcement authorities.”
He recalled one of the more notorious cases, Torat Hamelech or The King’s Torah, a 2009 book by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur.
The book argues that it is permissible in certain circumstances to kill the non-Jewish children and babies of Israel’s enemies since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.
As a result, the UK banned the entry of Elitzur.
Israeli authorities investigated the pair for incitement, but eventually decided not to charge them.
Amongst other figures who encourage these attacks is Bentzi Gopstein, the head of Lehava, a vigilante group that opposes miscegenation between Jews and Arabs.
In August 2015, Gopstein publicly called for the burning of churches and mosques.
The Vatican urged Israel to charge Gopstein with incitement to violence and terrorism.
Months later, Gopstein wrote an article branding Christians “blood-sucking vampires” and urging their expulsion from the country.
Although bishops have asked to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss these hate crimes, their request has been ignored. 

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
No grounds for outlawing racist group, concludes Israeli security agency
Bentzi Gopstein, head of the anti-gentile group Lehava, in court, December 16, 2014. Emil Salman
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?”

Yair Ettinger contributed to this report.

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