Church of the Multiplication of Loaves after arson by Jewish terrorists
Imagine an Palestinian
citizen of Israel were to advocate the burning of synagogues because that is
what the Quoran demands, imagine the reaction.
His feet wouldn’t touch the floor before he was in administrative
detention. Zionist groups would queue up
to denounce bloodthirsty anti-Semitic Arabs who bring on themselves Israeli ‘reprisals’. Politicians in the West – Clinton, Cameron et
al. would join in the condemnations.
But in Israel the leader of the State-funded Lehava Group whose ‘charity’
receives half its income from the State, [see A strange Kind of Mercy, Ha’aretz 27.5.11.] is able to proclaim that because Christians Churches and
Mosques are ‘idolatrous’ according to Maimonedes then they are legitimate
targets for arson and destruction.
Gopstein and Lehava Thugs
The Jerusalem Post
quotes a ‘Torah Professor’ one Rabbi HaCohen as saying that, apart from the fact that Christians aren’t
considered as idolators (arguable) “Jewish
halacha scholars always knew that you have to take into account not only formal
halachot but also implications of the halacha on the whole Jewish people.”
nun contemplates the destruction at the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves on the Sea of Galilee
Halacha is the
Oral Jewish law and is the interpretation of the Old Testament. What he is saying is that even if Gopstein is
correct, then the repercussions for Jews of such a policy would be attacks on Jewish
“Just imagine what will happen if we demolish
christian holy sites in Israel – what will happen to Jews in Europe and
America? If we do it to them, they will do it to us too.”
urged to declare Lehava a terrorist organisation, Attorney General Weinstein
has refused to take action on the advice of the Security Police, the equivalent
of MI5, Shin Bet. If this was an Arab
organisation urging the burning of synagogues, there would be no question that
it would be declared a terrorist organisation.
When it came to
the leader of the Northern Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, he made a
speech supporting a Third Intifada and promptly received 8 months in prison for
‘incitement’. No such penalty is handed
out to the dozens of inciters, not least those in the Israeli government, who
incite against Arabs from one day to the next. In the trial of Raed Salah Jerusalem
Post 3rd April 2014. Raed Salah’s speech, which was incidentally distorted to make it appear he was claiming that Jews ate at
Passover the blood of children, a distortion which became apparent when the Zionist CST tried to get Raed Salah
banned from Britain and the Home Secretary was left with egg on her face as the
High Court ruled against her attempts to deport him. [see Sheikh Raed Salah gets 8 months forincitement to violence]
According to Judge Miriam
Lump Salah “repeated the words ‘blood’ and ‘martyrs’ which can lead to
violence, and there is a serious potential for explosiveness.”
convicted in November 2013 for a sermon he gave at Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz
neighborhood in 2007. In the speech,
Salah urged supporters to start a third intifada in order to “save Al-Aksa
Mosque, free Jerusalem and end the occupation.” Raed Salah’s
real crime, of course, was advocating resistance to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians
and not being Jewish.
Leaders of the Catholic Church in Israel filed an incitement complaint
against the head of an extreme right-wing group opposed to Jewish-Arab
integration, who on Tuesday advocated the burning of mosques and churches in
Israel at a public forum.
The complaint against Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopshtain was filed in
coordination with the Vatican, according to a Haaretz report Friday, and was
formulated by a committee that included over 20 bishops and archbishops across
Gopshtain’s remarks during a panel debating Jewish religious law came
against the backdrop of an arson incident at the Church of the Multiplication
of the Loaves and Fishes on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in June. During the
session, Benny Rabinovitch, a writer for the ultra-Orthodox paper Yated
Ne’eman, asked Gopstein point-blank whether he advocated the burning of
churches, according to a recording of the debate published Wednesday by the ultra-Orthodox
news site Kikar Hashabat.
“Maimonides…,” Gopshtain started,
apparently alluding to the rulings of the 12th-century Jewish sage, “you must burn [churches], are you against
Maimonides or in favor of Maimonides?” “Don’t tell me about Maimonides, I asked
you what you say,” Rabinovitch replied.
“Of course I am,” Gopshtain said.
Later in the panel conversation, Rabbi Moshe Klein, the head rabbi of
Hadassah Hospitals, addressed Gopshtain, saying, “Bentzi, just now they filmed and recorded you, and [if] that reaches
the police you’ll be arrested.”
“That’s the last thing that bothers
me,” Gopshtain can be heard saying. “If
that’s the truth, then I’m prepared to sit 50 years in prison for it.”
Gopshtain later responded to reports that he advocated burning churches by
saying, “The law is straightforward:
Maimonides’ interpretation is that one must burn idolatry. There’s not a single
rabbi that would deliberate that fact. I expect the government of Israel to
carry that out.”
He told Kikar Hashabat, “I said that
for speaking the truth, I am prepared to sit in prison. And I emphasized that I
don’t burn and won’t go and burn churches.”
Lehava opposes homosexuality and the assimilation of Jews, and activists
regularly rally against personal or business relationships between Jews and
non-Jews, including outside wedding celebrations between Jews and Arabs.
In December, following the torching of a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem and
his arrest on suspicion of inciting terrorism, Gopshtain said his organization
does not act illegally and accused the Shin Bet security service of trying to
frame Lehava to thwart its “holy work of
saving the daughters of Israel.” In July, members of Lehava were convicted
of the attack on the school.
Lehava Chairman Bentzi Gopshtain is brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem on December 16, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Earlier this week, an internal Shin Bet report concluded there was
insufficient evidence to blacklist Lehava. The report came as a blow to Defense
Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s efforts, with the security agency and legal experts,
to build a case for banning the organization.
“The conclusion at this stage is that
there is insufficient evidence to declare the organization illegal,” the
Shin Bet told Haaretz in a statement Tuesday. According to the report, the
security agency said it would reconsider its assessment if new evidence against
the nationalist group emerges.
The Shin Bet’s report came out amid a crackdown on Jewish extremist groups
following last week’s firebombing of a Palestinian home near Nablus, in which
an 18-month-old baby was killed and his parents and brother were critically
wounded, and a stabbing attack by an ultra-Orthodox extremist at the Jerusalem
Gay Pride Parade, which left one dead and five others injured.
Three extremists suspected of involvement in Jewish terrorist activity
targeting Palestinians were placed under administrative detention –
imprisonment without trial – in the wake of the attack near Nablus.
Lehava’s Benzi Gopstein tells yeshiva panel
that the Rambam’s ruling for destruction of idol worship is still valid.
Chaim Levinson Aug 06, 2015 2:03 AM
The leader of the extremist anti-assimilation group Lehava allegedly called
for churches to be torched, at a panel held this week for yeshiva students.
Benzi Gopstein said he is prepared to spend 50 years in jail for doing so,
according to a report by the Haredi website Kikar Shabbat.
During the yeshiva intercession, known as bein hazmanim, many yeshivas hold
summer camps for their students. These combine Torah study with other
activities, like trips and panels to discuss current events. Kikar Shabbat
obtained and posted a recording of such a panel at the Wolfson Yeshiva camp, at
which Gopstein appeared along with Rabbi Moshe Klein, the rabbi of the Hadassah
Medical Centers; Elad Deputy Mayor Tzuriel Krispal; and Yated Ne’eman journalist
The panel was debating whether Jews are commanded to eliminate idol worship,
as the Rambam (Maimonides) states. After Gopstein responded affirmatively,
Klein hastened to interject, “It is a
mitzvah according to the Rambam, but in our times the answer is no.”
The issue generated an argument on the panel, with Gopstein defending his
position that churches should be burned. In response to a question by
Rabinovich as to whether he “is in favor
of burning churches in the Land of Israel,” Gopstein answered, “Did the Rambam rule to destroy [idol
worship] or not? Idol worship must be destroyed. It’s simply yes – what’s the
Rabinovich pressed the issue, saying, “Benzi,
I must say I’m really shocked by what you’re saying here. You are essentially
saying we must go out and burn down churches. You’re saying something insane
Gopstein replied, “What’s the
question? Do you doubt it?”
When Klein warned him the panel was being filmed, and that if the recording
should get to the police he would be arrested, Gopstein replied, “That’s the last thing that concerns me. If
this is truth, I’m prepared to sit in jail 50 years for it.”
As the panel discussion unfolded, Rabinovich tweeted a message on his
Twitter account: “I’m shocked to the
core. I’m sitting at a panel right now with Benzi Gopstein, who says outright
it’s a mitzvah to burn churches, and he is prepared to sit in jail 50 years for
this.” Some of the yeshiva students who saw his tweet called him a “moser”
In response to the release of the recording, Gopstein said, “At a closed panel of the Wolfson Yeshiva,
there was a halakhic debate about the Rambam’s approach to Christianity. During
the debate I said that, according to the Rambam, idol worship must be
destroyed. I stressed several times I was not calling to take operative steps,
but that this is the Rambam’s approach and that it’s the responsibility of the
government, not of individuals.
“I understand there’s a campaign against
right-wingers and they are trying to catch us on every word. But I would
recommend that they first investigate the preachers in the mosques or [MK
Ahmad] Tibi and [MK Haneen] Zoabi. Then let them come to me,” Gopstein
The Israel Religious Action Center, the legal advocacy arm of the Reform
Movement, petitioned the High Court of Justice last October against Attorney
General Yehuda Weinstein for not prosecuting Gopstein over previous
inflammatory remarks and actions. It has been waiting for a response since
“For many months, we have waited for a
decision by the attorney general regarding complaints against Gopstein for
incitement to racism,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement.
“If even these remarks don’t lead to a quick decision to prosecute him, we can
publicly declare that Israeli law allows incitement to racism and violence.
What else has to happen for the State of Israel to seriously fight those who
have decided to ignite the fire of hatred and fanaticism?”
Letter filed to A-G urges action in face of “real danger to churches
and Christian communities in Israel.”
The Vatican called on Sunday on Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein to indict
Benzi Gopstein, the head of the Jewish extremist group Lehava, on suspicion of
incitement to violence and terrorism.
The letter, filed by the Vatican’s representative in Israel, Custodia da
Terra Santa, to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, followed comments
made by Gopstein last week in favor of burning down churches in Israel.
Lehava is a radical anti-assimilation and anti-missionary organization which
has stirred great controversy since its founding in 2009.
a panel debate on idol worship last Tuesday, Gopstein cited Maimonides’s
ruling that Christianity is a form of idolatry that needs to be destroyed, in
accordance with the commandment in Deuteronomy to destroy idol worship in the
Land of Israel.
Thus, in theory, Gopstein said he was in favor of burning churches in
The Vatican’s letter stresses that urgent action must be taken against
Gopstein “in the face of real danger to
churches and Christian communities in Israel” as a result of his remarks.
The move follows a complaint filed to the police on Friday by Father Pietro
Felet, the secretary-general of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy
Land. The complaint was filed on behalf of some 20 patriarchs and bishops to
express concern over growing security challenges to Christian communities and
their holy sites in Israel and the West Bank.
Father Felet mentioned in his complaint several attacks on Christian holy
sites by radical groups, and hinted that in the vast majority of these
incidents the perpetrators were not brought to justice.
Gopstein took to Facebook to react to the letter, saying that he “views with great severity” the Vatican’s
“intervention in halachic discussions.”
“It’s time to remind the Vatican that
gone is the censorship period in which they censored Jewish books,” he
He also lashed out at Benny Rabinowitz, a journalist and editor with the Yated
Ne’eman ultra-Orthodox newspaper, who drew and recorded Gopstein’s
inflammatory statements when he asked him directly whether he is in favor of
burning Christian churches in Israel. Gopstein claims that his comments were
only made in the context of theoretical Jewish law and that he was not calling
for operative steps by individuals.
A priest inspects the damage caused to the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in what police suspect was an arson attack, on June 18, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
representative in Israel urged the government to take more stringent measures against
Jewish extremists Monday, following a spate of verbal and physical attacks on
Christian targets in recent months.
Abu Nasser, a top adviser to the Catholic Church in Israel, urged Israeli
authorities to clamp down on anti-Christian action and prevent further attacks.
“A red line has been crossed. Not only is
property damaged, but now people too. Christian men of faith are spat on in
Jerusalem,” Nasser told Army Radio.
“I hope that the government and relevant authorities
deal with these phenomena in a meaningful way. They may be just a handful of
[attackers], but we aren’t seeing any effective [measures against] them,” he said.
remarks came days after the Vatican City’s representative in Israel called on
Jerusalem to indict the leader of an extreme right-wing group for inciting
violence against Christian targets in the Jewish state.
pope’s representative and leaders of the Catholic Church in Israel filed a
complaint against Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopshtain Saturday, pressuring Attorney
General Yehuda Weinstein to indict him after he advocated the burning of
mosques and churches in Israel at a public forum.
“The writing is on the wall, and the next [attack]
that no one can foresee, is not a matter of if, but when,” a statement by the Vatican read, requesting that
Gopshtain stand trial.
“The situation has become intolerable,” Nasser said.
“Gopshtain isn’t the only one who incites. He simply marked himself. We are
sure that this is a trend.”
Yinon Reuveni (right) and Yehuda Asraf, suspected of vandalizing the church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, are seen at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court on July 29, 2015. (Photo by Basel Awidat/Flash90)
week, at a panel debate on an arson attack at the Church of the Multiplication
in the Galilee by Jewish extremists in June, Gopshtain intimated that Jewish
law mandates the burning of Christian and Muslim houses of worship.
“Maimonides…,” Gopshtain started,
apparently alluding to the rulings of the 12th-century Jewish sage, “you must burn [churches].” Asked if he
was advocating the burning of churches, Gophstain responded, “Of course I am.”
said, “Even though suspects were arrested in the Church of the
Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, in others cases we remained silent and
we got all kinds of promises that simply dissolved with time. We’re talking
about tens of cases about attacks on people and property.”
Jewish suspects, both allegedly subscribing to an anti-Christian ideology, were
indicted in July for their alleged role in the arson attack.
“I’m confident that the vast majority of
Israelis — from every religion and creed — [condemn and oppose] these attacks,”
“We’re not asking for special treatment. At
the same time, we don’t want less [protection] than others. This is for the
benefit of the State of Israel — not just for the Christians, but for Muslim
and Jews too. People who incite [to violence] deserve to be put behind bars,”