Vindicated Anti-Assimilation Head Urges Govt. Help

After ISA admits Lehava is legal, director calls for state to help fight assimilation - and to invest time in targeting actual terror.

Yedidya Ben-Or ,

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

After the Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shabak) conceded Tuesday that the anti-assimilation organization Lehava is perfectly legal, Lehava director Bentzi Gopshtain called for the government to join his group in preventing assimilation - as stipulated by Jewish law.

The ISA admission came after Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) called for an investigation into the group last December following a police crackdown on vague charges of "incitement," which the court threw out while ruling Lehava's activities are fully legal. The new admission also came after Opposition chairperson MK Yitzhak Herzog on Saturday called to brand Lehava a "terrorist organization."

"The time has come for everyone to internalize the opinion of the ISA, which examined and investigated up and down, and with no other option was forced to admit that the Lehava organization acts according to the law," Gopshtain said Tuesday.

"During the time that Boogie (Ya'alon) invested in the war against Lehava, he could have fought the true terror of the Islamic Movement in Israel and imposed order on the Temple Mount," noted Gopshtain.

Urging an implementation of the ISA statement, he added, "I call on the government of Israel to help Lehava's activities in fighting assimilation."

In a statement released Tuesday, ISA wrote, "following a request from MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) to the Defense Minister, the ISA was contacted to investigate the organization. We examined the issue from a legal and intelligence standpoint. The conclusion was that, at this stage, there is no sufficient basis for declaring the organization as 'illegal.'"

But despite the concession it appears chances of the government answering Gopshtain's call for cooperation remain slim, as the ISA noted that it "continues to closely monitor the activities of the organization."