Above: Rabbi Bentzion “Bentzi” Gopstein (sometimes spelled Gupstein)
Head Of Extreme Right-Wing Israeli Anti-Miscegenation Organization Endorses Church Burnings
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Rabbi Bentzion “Bentzi” Gopstein, the head of the extremist neo-Kahanist Lehava religious purity organization, said Tuesday he endorses church-burnings, the Jerusalem Post reported based on a report in the haredi news website Kikar HaShabbat.
Gopstein made that statement during a debate at the Wolfson Yeshiva in Jerusalem and based it on the biblical commandment to destroy all idol worship in the Land of Israel.
During the debate Benni Rabinowitz, a journalist and editor at Yated Ne’eman, the largest haredi daily newspaper in Israel, asked Gopstein if he supported burning Christian churches in Israel.
Gopstein replied, “Are you against Maimonides or in favor of him?”
“Don’t talk to me about Maimonides, I asked you what you think,” Rabinowitz retorted.
“For sure…Did Maimonides rule that you need to destroy or not? Idolatry needs to be destroyed,” Gopstein replied.
Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon; the Rambam; d. 1204 CE), the greatest of the medieval rabbis, believed that while Islam is not idol worship according to Jewish law, Christianity is.
Kikar HaShabbat obtained a recording of the debate and published it noting that exchange. In response, Gopstein issued a statement claiming what he said was only meant to be taken in the context of theoretical Jewish law.
“In a closed panel in a Wolfson Yeshiva debate the subject arose on Maimonides’ opinion on Christianity. During the debate, I said that according to Maimonides one needs to destroy idolatry. I emphasized several times that I was not calling to take operative steps but rather that this was Maimonides’ stance and that this [step] would be incumbent on the government and not individuals. I understand that there is criticism of the right wing and people are trying to trap us for every word but I would recommend that first an investigation be opened up into preachers in mosques or [MK Ahmed] Tibi or [MK Haneen] Zoabi,” Gopstein’s statement reportedly reads.
Last week Lehava, including Gopstein, protested the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. During that protest, Gopstein equated homosexuality to pedophilia. And over the past year, Lehava members have been arrested for an attack against a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem and have been linked to other anti-coexistence and anti-Christian and Muslim attacks.
Israel’s Internal Security Agency (known as Shabak or the Shin Bet), which has come under withering criticism for its failures to stop the rising tide of anti-Muslim and anti-Christian hate crimes committed by Jews, claimed this week that it does not have enough evidence to recommend banning Lehava.