Israel Police Question Jewish Extremist Who Called Christian Missionaries 'Blood-sucking Vampires'

The police unit responsible for hate crimes in the West Bank is investigating whether Lehava leader Bentzi Gopstein supported the use of violence.

Bentzi Gopstein outside a police station, Feb. 25, 2016.
Emil Salman

The head of the anti-gentile extremist group Lehava was questioned by police Thursday because of his online article stating that Christians were “vampires and blood suckers” who must be expelled from the country.

The police unit responsible for hate crimes in the West Bank is investigating whether Lehava’s leader, Bentzi Gopstein, supported the use of violence.

Earlier this week, prosecutors had told the police to investigate Gopstein because of the article, which was published in December on an ultra-Orthodox website.

The Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center had asked the State Prosecutor’s Office to order an investigation into Gopstein for alleged incitement and insulting religious sensibilities.

“Over many generations the Jewish people have suffered from missionaries who came to convert Jews by coercion and torture,” Gopstein said.

“It’s sad we now have a Jewish government, a Jewish police commissioner and an attorney general who want to investigate me for writing against these missionaries. It’s time the government passed a law banning missionaries.”

Gopstein has been under police scrutiny since 2012, when a covert investigation was launched against him for racist incitement, one that became public when Gopstein and other Lehava activists were arrested in December 2014 after the torching of a bilingual school in Jerusalem.

The investigation’s findings were handed to prosecutors last May, but no charges have been filed yet.