"The cancer we spoke about in the beginning has offshoots in the Knesset of Israel too," he says. "Thirty years ago, Rabbi Kahane stood up in the Knesset and took out a hangman's noose for traitors, a noose for the Arab MK who was there. It's not a threat, it's a promise, the rabbi said when attacked for doing so. So this is what I want to wish (former MK Azmi) Bishara on behalf of all of you," and Gopstein pulls out a noose and waves it to the crowd. "Your day will come, Azmi! We are waiting for the Israeli government to come and hang you from the tallest tree! Azmi, only thanks to Rabbi Kahane will we make sure you are hanged one day.…"
Above: the late extremist, Rabbi Meir Kahane
Journalist Liat Bar-Stav went undercover inside the racist neo-Kahanist Lehava organization for Ynet.
Lehava draws its membership from Israel's political right-wing. Many members are Zionist Orthodox, often from West Bank settlement. And while some members are secular (usually Sefardim), an increasing number of Lehava members are now haredi.
Here are excerpts from the article:
…we walk through the park [across from the courthouse] and hand out cards bearing messages such as "Don't even think about getting a Jewish girl" or "He doesn't really love you." The message to every Arab man we meet: "It's fine for you to be here, just don't try to pick up a Jewish girl."
We're instructed to look for mixed couples. And if we find any, we're to approach the woman, acquire her telephone number, and pass it on to the organization for further handling of the matter. "You approach the girl and say, 'Excuse me, I don't have a phone. May I make a call? You call your [own] phone, and that's how you get the number," [Lehava Chairman Bentzion “Bentzi”] Gopstein will explain to us at some point.
The same exercise takes place every Thursday. Another day of the week is devoted to patrols around the city, fundraising and the distribution of leaflets.…
The hall in Jerusalem is packed, large wooden boards divide the men from the women, and Rabbi Kahane's angry face appears on the large screens around the room. His calls for the death penalty for terrorists and his labeling of the leftists as traitors and the Arabs a cancer boom from the speakers. The crowd cheers and applauds, and loud jeering is heard at every mention of Shimon Peres' name.
The event comes to mark the 24th anniversary of Kahane's murder and in attendance are activists from Lehava, Otzma Yehudit and other right-wing groups. I'm responsible for selling stickers and collecting names and particulars to add to Lehava's mailing list.
"Do you want to join Lehava?" Have you heard about us?" I say with a wink to a familiar activist I run into. "I heard they are racist, fascists, Arab haters." he responds with a laugh. "Why don't they make stickers that read: I am a racist, a proud fascist? Why do you use that symbol?" he asks, pointing to the stickers. "Just use a swastika and that's it."
Following a brief prayer session, the rally opens with an address by Gopstein. "Some 45 years ago, Rabbi Kahane said, shouted and cried out that the enemies within us are a cancer and that if we don't take this cancer and get rid of it, we won't continue to exist," Gopstein begins. "Unfortunately, this dangerous cancer of coexistence has metastasized everywhere. There are various ministers in the government who are encouraging coexistence, who are giving them jobs, allowing them into the hi-tech world, allowing them to become doctors,"
The audience responds with loud boos and jeering. "Everyone knows today that Rabbi Kahane was right," he continues, "but knowing is not enough. The rabbi wanted action and so we haven't gathered here only to remember Rabbi Kahane; we are here to continue Rabbi Kahane's way."
Gopstein's speech now reaches a climax: "The cancer we spoke about in the beginning has offshoots in the Knesset of Israel too," he says. "Thirty years ago, Rabbi Kahane stood up in the Knesset and took out a hangman's noose for traitors, a noose for the Arab MK who was there. It's not a threat, it's a promise, the rabbi said when attacked for doing so. So this is what I want to wish (former MK Azmi) Bishara on behalf of all of you," and Gopstein pulls out a noose and waves it to the crowd. "Your day will come, Azmi! We are waiting for the Israeli government to come and hang you from the tallest tree! Azmi, only thanks to Rabbi Kahane will we make sure you are hanged one day."
Gopstein leaves the stage to calls of "Bentzi! Bentzi!" And [Itamar] Ben-Gvir [the lead attorney for the neo-Kahanist legal aid organization Honenu] takes the microphone. "Let's hear it for him; he deserves it," the attorney calls out.…
The Magician, or Rabbi Aryeh Lar by his real name, is one of the most admired people in the organization, the brains behind the struggle against assimilation. He's been in the business now for 20 years, lectures about the dangers of assimilation at educational institutions and in the community, and meets for talks with Jewish girls who are dating Arabs. Earlier efforts to learn more about the man had fallen short, and here he was now, standing right in front of me.
"Where are you from? What are you studying?" he asks.
When I tell him I'm a student, his eyes open wide. "Tell me, can you act? Pretend? You need to know how to talk to some of them."
The conversation continues, and Lar reveals some of his trade secrets. "We first need to gather as much information about them as we can, and then we go over to speak to them in a random fashion," he says of the girls with whom he meets. "You don't mention the word, gentile. You say that you see some impurity in her that could affect her health, her life; perhaps it's a relationship, maybe something else – and that's how you get to her.
"We've already saved more than 200 girls in four years," Lar continues. "Some require two years of hard work. Most of the girls don't want to talk at all… Take my number and if I have names from the center of the country, I'll get in touch with you."
Two days later, I get my first call for help; but the friends of the "errant" girl who called in the report get cold feet when I approach them as a representative of Lehava. I don't get to "save" her, but my ties with The Magician strengthen, and we now speak almost daily. He tells me about the cases he is working on – a girl from Petah Tikva one time, another from Bnei Brak, and another from Jerusalem, and more.…
Read it all here.