'Thanks to the arrest we were able to help more girls'

Cofounder of anti-assimilation group says organization received spike in calls after her husband's arrest.

Eliran Aharon ,

Anat Gopstein
Anat Gopstein
Eliran Aharon

The cofounder of the Lehava anti-assimilation group blasted police Tuesday, following the arrest of her husband earlier this week and efforts by police to block his release to house arrest.

Police arrested more than a dozen Lehava activists Sunday morning, including the group’s chairman, Bentzi Gopstein. Authorities say the activists were taken into custody as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations the group threatened Israeli Arab men who were involved romantically with Jewish women.

Nevertheless, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court released all 15 activists, including Gopstein, freeing him to house arrested despite police efforts to extend his arrest.

On Tuesday, Gopstein’s wife and Lehava cofounder Anat Gopstein spoke with Arutz Sheva regarding her husband’s arrest and the subsequent spike in interest for the organization.

“Israel Police are hounding my husband obsessively, psychotically,” said Anat.

“This time they accused him during interrogation of telling a [Jewish] girl that it was a bad idea to date an Arab.”

Anat lamented that while Israel once recognized that intermarriage and assimilation are serious threats to the future of the Jewish people, addressing either is now deemed politically incorrect, even as the state continues to support efforts to curb intermarriage abroad, via the Jewish Agency.

“In Israel today, fighting assimilation is considered racism – and that [view] is precisely what we’re trying to combat.”

“I think that it shouldn’t be just us fighting assimilation, the State of Israel needs to get involved as well. In the Diaspora, the Jewish Agency deals with assimilation, but here in Israel its considered racist, and anyone who tries to deal with it gets arrested.”

Despite the difficulties caused by the arrests, Anat noted that there was a silver lining for Levaha. The arrests and wave of news reports created free publicity for Lehava, leading to a dramatic increase in calls to the organization.

“Overall, we want to thank the police. Organizations spend a lot of money on advertising, but just yesterday we received 16 referrals regarding girls who, unfortunately, are dating Arabs, and their families are calling for help. We’re the ones who come and give them that assistance.”

“Usually we get around 5 to six new cases every day, but since the arrest its gone up to 16.”