Right-Wing Activist Gopstein Indicted for Incitement

YERUSHALAYIM -
Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopstein is arrested by police outside a Christian event in Yerushalayim in 2016. (Dor Kedmi/Flash90)

Right-wing activist Bentzi Gopstein was indicted Tuesday on a series of charges relating to incitement to violence against Arabs. Gopstein heads the Lehava group, which conducts protests against the involvement of Arabs in Israeli society, and stresses the need for Jews and Arabs to remain separate and distinct.

The indictment is the result of eight years of legal efforts by Reform groups. The groups have sent no fewer than 45 complaints to the State Prosecutor’s office, as well as numerous High Court petitions. One petition in August saw Gopstein removed from the Otzma Yehudit party list, where he had been a candidate for a Knesset seat.

Lehava holds protests and demonstrations against what Gopstein calls assimilation of Jews and Arabs. The indictment lists five instances between 2007 and 2012 in which Gopstein is accused of inciting Jews to acts of violence against Arabs. In one instance, Gopstein shared on social media footage of Jews beating up three Arabs in Zion Square in Yerushalayim. In a voiceover accompanying the footage, Gopstein said that “Jewish girls are menaced daily by Arabs. It appears that these Jewish boys did something to raise the honor and status of Jews, and did what the police should have done.”

Commenting on the indictment Tuesday, Gopstein said that “it appears that prosecutors, doing the bidding of their Reform masters, have decided that fighting assimilation is racist. This is a dark day for the prosecution and the State Attorney. But this indictment will change nothing – we will continue to work to save Jews from assimilation. We beat Pharaoh and Achashverosh, we will beat State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit,” both of whom are signed onto the indictment, Gopstein said.