Lehava founder, right-wing anti-assimilation activist, and former member of the Kach movement Benzi Gopstein will stand trial on charges of incitement to terrorism, with evidence against him primarily based on quotes from various interviews he has given to members of the media over the years.
Gopstein is accused of telling TV host Avri Gilad in an interview aired approximately seven years ago that, "The State prosecution, led by the Reform movement, is leading a campaign against me and the Lehava movement for what? Things that happened years ago…statements to the media. I think it is time for the State Prosecutor to [admit] that in a democratic society one can say things that Justice Department officials may not find to their liking. What is certain is that the fight against assimilation is not racism."
Gopstein's attorney, Itamar Ben Gvir, referred to Gopstein as the modern-day Dreyfus. "While Joint Arab List MKs openly state their support for terrorism, Gopstein is standing trial for statements he made to the media years ago. We will turn this into a trial against the State Prosecutor," he said.
Last year, Gopstein was also charged with incitement to racism and supporting terror. In that case, too, the activist was accused of making racist statements to the media dating as far back as 2012.
Asked about an incident in which Jewish youths attacked three Arab men for stalking Jewish girls, Gopstein said, "I don't know exactly what happened but it seems these youth lifted Jewish pride off the floor and did what the police should have done—they handed out 'street justice' to the Arabs that were bothering Jewish girls."
At the opening to last year's trial, Gopstein accused Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and state prosecutor Shai Nitzan of "having decided that fighting assimilation is racism." "This is a black day when the attorney general [has turned] against the Torah. I am certain that if Matityahu and Judah Maccabee would have lived today, they would be jailed for racism," he concluded.