Dozens of rabbis, including the chief rabbi of Jerusalem and prominent rabbis from the Religious-Zionist community, have publicized a letter of support for the Lehava anti-assimilation organization, in the wake of the stated intention of the Minister for Internal Security to outlaw Lehava.
“We protest the intention of the Minister of Police, Omer Bar Lev, to outlaw the Lehava organization and to designate it as a terrorist organization,” the statement reads. “The Lehava organization fights against assimilation, safeguards Jewish identity, and helps women and girls in distress – and all of these are foundational principles of our holy Torah.
“It is unthinkable that opposition to assimilation should be categorized as racism,” the statement continues. “The organization operates within the law and according to the principles of our holy Torah, and does not involve itself in any violent activity or utilize any illegal means, and it should be allowed to continue its valuable work.”
Last week, Twitter made the decision to permanently block the accounts of Lehava head Bentzi Gopstein and right-wing activist Baruch Marzel, with the explanation that, “These accounts have been banned due to breach of social media policies with regard to violent organizations.”
“The Reform movement along with members of the extreme left wing reported my Twitter account and succeeded in having it banned on a temporary basis,” Gopstein said in response. “Those who granted a mouthpiece to terrorists are fighting against me. But it won’t help. I will continue to work on behalf of Jewish women and girls. I hope that Twitter will check out the facts and remove its ban.”
Among those rejoicing at the news of the Twitter ban was the Reform Center for State and Religion, which issued a statement saying: “A great success for the Reform Center for State and Religion. After a protracted battle, Twitter has decided to suspend the account of Bentzi Gopstein, who heads the Lehava organization – an account that operated under the user-name of ‘Kahana Tzadak’ [Kahana was right, referring to murdered rabbi Meir Kahana].
“Last year, the Reform Center submitted several petitions to Twitter asking for an immediate and permanent removal of the account, as it was being used in order to disseminate material that promotes terrorism and violence, racism and hatred of Arabs and LGBT – all in blatant opposition to Twitter’s policies. Following our appeals, Twitter has decided to suspend Gopstein’s account.”
The Tag Meir organization responded harshly to the rabbis’ statement, writing, “Those rabbis who signed against the intention of Minister Bar Lev to outlaw the Lehava organization have apparently forgotten the involvement of Lehava members in the arson of a bi-lingual school in Jerusalem, and a recorded statement of Bentzi Gopstein in which he can be heard saying, ‘Of course I am in favor of burning churches.’”
Among the signatories to the statement are Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Uziyahu Sharbaf, and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.