Police Grill Far-right Leaders Over anti-Arab Incitement

Bentzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel interrogated by cyber crime unit over social media posts and statements against Arabs

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Baruch Marzel (left) and Bentzi Gopstein in 2019
Baruch Marzel (left) and Bentzi Gopstein in 2019Credit: Emil Salman

Police questioned far-right leaders Bentzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel on Wednesday on suspicion of racist incitement against Arabs, focusing on social media posts and other statements by the two denigrated Arabs and mixed-race couples.

The two were interrogated by the police's national cyber crime unit of Lahav 433, following complaints over their social media posts, police said. Gopstein and Marzel refused to answer the officers' questions, and were released under restrictions, police said.

Gopstein's interrogation focused on a 2018 series of videos published by his organization, Lehava, that warned against romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs.

In Marzel's interrogation, officers confronted him with Youtube lectures in which he said that Israel should model its actions against its enemies on the Biblical story of the 10 disasters inflicted on Egypt by God.  Officers also brought up details from the Supreme Court decision that prevented Marzel from running for the Knesset on grounds of racism.

Gopstein said his interrogation was a case of political persecution. Speaking to the press, he referred to recent Arab-Jewish strife in the city of Lod and said: "The Lahav 433 headquarters are here in Lod, but police isn't questioning the sheikh who incited the masses here to murder Jews, but me, for publishing videos against miscegenation and for urging girls not to go out with goys."

Marzel also said the interrogation was politically motivated. "Good to know that Israel Police has an elite unit," he said sarcastically. "I was promoted today and was questioned by the cyber unit. This is buffoonery."

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