Israeli Extremist Who Called Christians 'Blood-sucking Vampires' Faces Criminal Investigation

Reform Movement's Religious Action Center contacted prosecution after Lehava head Bentzi Gopstein demanded Christians be deported in article entitled 'Eradicate the vampires.'

Bentzi Gopstein, head of the anti-gentile group Lehava, in court, December 16, 2014.
Emil Salman

Prosecutors have given police the green light to pursue a criminal investigation for suspected incitement against Bentzi Gopstein, head of the anti-gentile extremist group Lehava, for an article he wrote in December comparing Christians to “vampires” and demanding they be deported.

The December 17 article, which also called on the authorities to block public celebrations of Christmas, appeared on the Kooker website. After it appeared, the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center contacted the prosecution and asked it to order an investigation into Gopstein for alleged incitement and insulting religious sensibilities. When a violation touches on issues of freedom of expression, the prosecution must vet the complaint before police can investigate.

Haaretz has learned that the Reform center was recently told by the prosecution that the case had been forwarded to the police.

Gopstein at a protest against Arab homeowners in Afula, 2015.
Gil Eliyahu

In the article, entitled “Eradicate the vampires,” Gopstein wrote, “In recent days I’ve been walking around the country feeling a very uncomfortable feeling. I’m not talking this time about the lack of personal security that stems from the government’s helplessness against the Arab enemy, but a lack of spiritual security, the destruction of the fort, the collapse of the Jewish people’s defense line against our deadly enemy for centuries – the Christian church.”

Gopstein continued that the church over the centuries had tried its best to destroy the Jewish people, but has “suffered a crushing defeat, because the Jewish people now have one of the world’s strongest armies and there’s no chance for them to destroy our bodies. There’s only one last chance for those blood-sucking vampires - the mission... If they cannot kill the Jews, they can still try to convert them.”

He added, “Stores for missionary literature are selling their wares for all to see on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem; entire communities are infested with missionaries, many businesses are run by them and serve the mission, often using camouflage and without the knowledge of their employees.”

Gopstein continued: “The same revulsion that was the lot of every Jew, the loathing that we described above that saved us during those dark days in Europe, has been fading with the ‘good life’ of the age of democracy. The barriers have come down, and the mission is waiting to attack its prey.”

At the end of the article, Gopstein calls “to fight this perverse phenomenon in the best Jewish tradition, before we all, including the observant among us, turn into sycophants. ‘Christmas’ has no place in the holy land. Missionaries cannot be given a foothold. Let us expel the vampires from our land, before they suck our blood once again.”

Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski, head of the Religious Action Center’s legal department, said, “We welcome the decision to launch an investigation against Bentzi Gopstein for his wild incitement against Christians. We hope the investigation will be swift and end in the prosecution of one of the great inciters.”

Gopstein has been under police scrutiny since 2012, when a covert police investigation was launched against him for racist incitement, one that became public when Gopstein and other Lehava activists were arrested in December 2014 after activists torched the Hand in Hand Bilingual School in Jerusalem. The findings of the investigation were given to prosecutors in May 2015, but the case has neither been closed nor have charges been filed.

Gopstein, through his attorney, anti-Arab extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir, said, “The prosecution must understand that right-wingers also have freedom of expression. The article was written against missionaries, those who try to proselytize and whose activities are illegal. Apparently no one in the prosecution actually read the article.”

The State Prosecutor’s Office said, “The prosecution instructed the police to complete its investigation. We cannot provide further details.”