Benzi Gopstein, leader of the extremist anti-assimilationist group Lehava, has called for the prevention of Christmas celebrations in Israel and the expulsion of Christians whom he compared to “vampires.”
“Christmas has no place in the Holy Land,” Gopstein wrote in an article posted a few days ago on the Haredi website Kooker.
The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism has called on the prosecutor and the police to launch an investigation.
Gopstein wrote in the article that he is disturbed by “the fall of the line of defense of the Jewish people against our deadly enemy for hundreds of years – the Christian Church.”
He said the Church had used “the maximum tools at its disposal to destroy the Jewish people,” and that today “the Church has been defeated roundly when the Jewish people has one of the strongest armies in the world and they have no chance any longer of destroying our body.”
However, Gopstein said, the Church has not given up. “A last hope remains to those vampires and blood suckers – the mission. If Jews cannot be killed, they can still be converted.”
Gopstein said “missionary bookstores offer their products in front of everyone on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, whole communities are crawling with missionaries, many businesses are run by them and are used by the mission, many cases using camouflage and without the knowledge of the employees.”
Gopstein said that the “fear that every Jew felt, the disgust that we described above at Christianity – disgust that was the only thing that saved us from the dark days in Europe – has disappeared with the ‘good life’ of the democratic ageand the missionary is on the prowl for prey.”
Gopstein ends his article by writing: “I call on everyone to raise a cry and fight this corrupt phenomenon in the best tradition of Judaism, before we all, including those who observe the commandments among us, become a community of sycophants.”
“Christmas has no place in the Holy Land,” he wrote, adding “Let us remove the vampires before they once again drink our blood.”
The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism and the Coalition Against Racism have asked the deputy prosecutor for special functions, as well as the police unit in charge of cybercrime, to investigate. The movements wrote: “The article calls for the prevention of celebration of Christmas, the most important Christian holiday, and to work to remove Christians from Israel.” The groups also noted that Gopstein’s description of Christians as “vampires and blood-suckers” contravenes the law prohibiting insult to religious feelings.
“This statement was not made in a vacuum but in the context of many acts of violence against Christian clergy in recent years,” the groups wrote.
Orly Erez-Likhovski, head of the Reform center’s legal department said: “Benzi Gopstein stops at nothing to incite against anyone who is not him – Arab Muslims, Christians and others, using harsh language and calling for violence. Unfortunatelyin the face of this incitementlaw enforcement is thunderously silent.”
The center’s letter to the prosecution and the police joins a number of complaints against Gopstein that are still waiting to be dealt with. He is still being investigated for statements made in 2012 which became public when he was arrested together with other activists in December 2014, after Lehava members torched the bilingual school in Jerusalem. The findings were turned over to the prosecution in May. However, indictments have not been served, and according to a report earlier this week on Channel 10, it seems the case is going to be closed.
According to Channel 10, the evidence on which police based its recommendation to charge Gopstein included Facebook posts, text messages and WhatsUp conversations, which police claimed were racist in nature.
Among others, posts published on Gopstein's Facebook page included photos of Israeli Arab lawmakers doctored to seem like they were hanged from the neck, as well as calls against miscegenation and coexistence. However, the investigation showed that another person was publishing posts on Gopstein's page during his arrest, making it harder to prove that it was Gopstein who personally posted the questionable content.
The State Prosecutor's Office said it has received the groups' letter calling for an investigation into Gopstein's latest comments, and added that "no decision has been made yet" on the Lehava case.