Bentzi Gopshtain
Bentzi GopshtainYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Bentzi Gopshtain, head of the Lehava anti-assimilation organization, issued a withering response to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) on Wednesday, after the latter a day earlier voiced his support for banning Lehava.

Edelstein's remarks followed a meeting called by leftist MKs to try and ban Lehava, despite the fact that the courts have already ruled the group's activities to prevent assimilation as per Jewish law are completely legal.

When Gopshtain appeared in the meeting, leftist and Arab MKs  hurled vile curses at Gopshtain and asked Edelstein to bar him from the Knesset. Edelstein said he could find no legal reason to do so while calling Gopshtain not "worthy" to be in the Knesset, and urging law enforcement to declare Lehava illegal so as to block him.

Gopshtain wrote a letter to Edelstein in response: "I was sorry to read your response to my appearance at the Interior Committee at the Knesset, at a time when in the Knesset building there are members who support terrorist attacks against IDF soldiers and settlers, and there are those who equate between the state of Israel and the Nazis may their names be erased.

"Because I have respect for you as a former Prisoner of Zion who sat for the right to ascend to the land (of Israel - ed.) and keep the mitzvot (commandments - ed.), I write to you as one whose rabbi, Rabbi (Meir) Kahane, was the first to fight for the Jews in the Soviet Union, to one (i.e. Edelstein - ed.) who merited to fight the evil empire from within, as one warm Jew to another warm Jew, and ask - do you really view the activities of Lehava as terrorist activities?

"Did you fight for the right to ascend to the land to live in a Jewish state, or so that our daughters should marry non-Jews? Do you know how many poor girls cry out for help so that we can rescue them from the awful jail that has been forced on them? What do you say about the dedicated activists who toil day and night to locate those girls while placing themselves in danger, after the parents of the girls tearfully turned to Lehava - not to the Knesset or to any other place? These are terrorists?"

"When they (the Knesset - ed.) are discussing the nature of this organization (Lehava - ed.), is it not fitting to give it the opportunity to present its position? Did you make aliyah to Israel from Russia to implement here the democratic methods of the Soviet politburo? To give freedom of speech to everyone, as long as they agree with you? On condition that they toe the line? That's what you call 'freedom of speech'?

"This is what you left the Soviet Union for? In my opinion, you didn't. In my opinion, you sacrificed and endangered yourself and sat in jail in order to live in a Jewish state, in a state that honors those who act for the Jewish nation.

"Please, return to those days of greatness, those days of praise, when you became famous not as a man of the institution but rather as a man of truth who was ready to fight the institution. Please, don't let your position and your status cause you to shame your youth - the way history will commemorate you is open before you. You can be recorded as a hero of the nation, or you can, G-d forbid, find yourself as one who submits to the Bolshevik ideological terror."