'Anti-Zionist Arab Lights Independence Day Torch'

Police set severe limitations on Lehava group's protest against Arab torch lighter, set to occur during national ceremony.

Shlomo Pyotrkovsky, Ari Yashar,

Bentzi Gopshtain
Bentzi Gopshtain
Public Relations

Bentzi Gopshtain, director of the Lehava organization that fights assimilation in Israel, has submitted a request to the police to allow a protest against the lighting of the Israeli Independence Day ceremony torch by Arab Israeli TV presenter Lucy Aharish.

Gopshtain explains that the protest is meant to oppose the selection of Aharish - who he argues is an opponent of Zionism - to light the torch at an official Independence Day ceremony.

"She isn't loyal to the state of Israel, and it should make people sad that she, of all people, was selected to light the torch on Independence Day," he stated.

"If they had chosen a representative of the Arab sector who accepts that the land of Israel is the land of the Jewish people, I would understand it," the Lehava director continued.

"But the moment they select someone for whom the Star of David flag isn't her flag, the IDF isn't her army, and whose 'soul doesn't yearn' to hear the 2,000-year-old 'hope' (Hatikva, the national anthem - ed.), then there's a huge missing of the mark here in the lighting of the torch and making a message precisely on Independence Day."

In response to his request to hold a protest, Gopshtain said "the police themselves are placing limitations and difficulties on the protest, and among other things are seeking to prevent members of the organization (Lehava) from holding speeches, and even demanding that they hold the protest in a place that is out of view from the ceremony's venue."

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represents Lehava in the matter, said: "The behavior of the police doesn't make sense at all and hasn't been explained."

"It appears elements in the police are doing all they can to harm the freedom of expression," charged Ben-Gvir. "It's unacceptable for them to push Lehava members to a distance that won't allow them to hold an effective protest, and even more serious is the police ban on speeches during the protest."

Ben-Gvir concluded, saying, "this is the same police that allowed (Arab radicals) Raed Salah and Hanin Zoabi to speak in the name of freedom of expression, and it isn't clear why precisely when it's a protest of Lehava, they don't allow freedom of expression."

Salah is the head of the Islamist Movement in Israel, and has been in jail on several occasions for inciting attacks against Jews and actually assaulting police officers. Zoabi is an Arab MK who has openly supported the Hamas terrorist organization in its war against Israel, and took part in the infamous 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla.

Ben-Gvir and Gopshtain are members of the Otzma Yehudit party that missed out of the last elections by around 10,000 votes on a joint list with Yachad - Ha'am Itanu.




top