Confirmed: Ya'alon Filed Request to Outlaw Lehava

Ya'alon directs agencies to investigate legality of blacklisting anti-assimilation group, saying it is 'racist' and 'a hate group.'

Uzi Baruch ,

Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has turned to the Israel Security Agency (ISA) and the security establishment to examine the possibility of outlawing anti-assimilation group Lehava, he confirmed Monday. 

"I have turned to legal entities in the defense establishment and the Israel Security Agency to examine whether the Lehava organization can be outlawed," Ya'alon said.

"I did it because we can not allow racism to substantially endanger the quality of life here," he explained. "I did it because we must fight in any way attempts to discriminate between people just because of their race, their color, their gender or sexual preference."

"Someone who spreads these and other messages, particularly against Arab minorities and against anyone who is at all different is a multifaceted danger to Israeli society," he continued, "and does not represent Jewish values, including elevating and leading the State of Israel." 

"Members of Lehava are mistakenly referred to as 'extreme right'," he added. "They do not represent any 'right' to me, at least not the 'right' I know."

"They simply represent a dark and dangerous phenomenon that has no connection to the sane right, which keeps the law," he said. "All of us, members of the left and right of all stripes, must unite against such dangerous phenomena, and an all-out fight them in any way the law allows us to." 

Lehava leader Bentzi Gopshtain and several other activists were arrested on vague suspicions of "incitement," which the court threw out in ruling that Lehava's activities in combating assimilation - which is forbidden by Jewish law - are completely legal.

The Lehava crackdown began on what some are labeling a "pretext" of the arrest of three youths who are members of the organization. They are suspected of setting fire to a bilingual Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem and scrawling racist graffiti, after the school held a memorial honoring the terrorist leader Yasser Arafat.

The crackdown has had potentially serious political ramifications; after arresting ten Lehava members, they also raided the Jerusalem offices of former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Yehudit party, claiming that it was a front for the organization. 

It also may galvanize critics of Ya'alon, who has been known for crackdowns on certain elements of the Judea-Samaria community, including his military takeover of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar last year.

Far-right politicians have already urged voters not to vote for Likud - under which Ya'alon is running in a fairly high position for the 2015 elections - following rumors of Ya'alon's decision to pursue a blacklist for Lehava and in light of previous decisions he has made in "settlement" issues.