Lehava's 'Holy Work' Vindicated in Court

Lehava activist released after police crackdown calls assimilation greatest threat to Jews, as court rules Lehava's work is legal.

Ari Yashar,

Lehava director Bentzi Gopshtain
Lehava director Bentzi Gopshtain
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Sarah, a 26-year-old medical engineer, is one of the ten members of the Lehava anti-assimilation organization that jailed as part of a police crackdown against the group this week on charges of "incitement" - she and six others were freed on Thursday.

Speaking to Channel 10, she recounted her arrest saying "they turned my room upside down and found a shirt or pajamas with Lehava on  it."

The crackdown on Lehava comes after three youths who are members of the organization were arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a bilingual Jewish and Arab school in Jerusalem and scrawling racist graffiti. According to the indictment submitted against them on Monday, the three decided to do so after learning the school held a memorial honoring the terrorist leader Yasser Arafat.

Lehava has strongly denied any connection to the independent acts of the three, and notes that all of its activities are completely legal. Many have charged the left with repressing the organization on an ideological basis.

The goal of the group is "to prevent romantic relations between Jewish woman and Arabs, so that the Jewish people will continue to exist," explained Sarah. The struggle against intermarriage is indeed a precept of Jewish law.

Sarah continued "the police claims that's racism, because they think preventing assimilation is racism." That claim was shot down by the Jerusalem District Court, which ruled "the call against assimilation is not a criminal offense."

"Assimilation kills the Jewish nation more than the Holocaust, pogroms or anti-Semitism," she said, noting the shockingly high assimilation rates among European and American Jewry, with the same trend raising its head in Israel as well on a lower scale.

"I never came across a Lehava activist who shouted 'Arabs out,'" Sarah added, accusing the state of not taking proper action. "The blood of Jews in Jerusalem always was abandoned. People are run over here, they're killed. The Lehava organization stood things in their place. This is a holy organization and I will stay in it proudly."

In nearly all cases of mixed marriages with Arabs in Israel, the Jewish partner is the bride. It is a well documented phenomenon that such wives often suffer abuse from their Arab husbands, and many require help to escape.

The court on Thursday extended the arrest of Lehava director Bentzi Gopshtain and two other activists, letting the others go and rejecting the police request for a longer extension on the three.

After the ruling Gopshtain said "the prosecution of the State of Israel thinks that it is forbidden to speak here. ...It is not the KGB here, this is the State of Israel. We will talk and no one will silence us. We will continue to fight against assimilation - that is Judaism, not racism. I urge everyone not to be silent - today it's me, tomorrow it's you."

The police crackdown didn't stop at Lehava - on Thursday the Jerusalem offices of former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Yehudit party were raided by police, who made the outlandish claim that they were a front for Lehava.

"On false pretenses, and to make up for the severe criticism being levied at them, they decided that the best move was to come into our offices and interfere with the organization of an election event for our party," said Ben-Ari.




top