Four Israeli NGOs filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on Thursday, asking the legal body for an explanation from the attorney general as to why the anti-assimilation Lehava organization hasn’t been prosecuted for incitement to violence and incitement to racism.
The organizations insisted that dozens of appeals to the High Court and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein against Lehava – whose Hebrew initials stand for “Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land” — over the years went unheeded, Israel Radio reports.
“Instead of coming out loud and clear against racism in the past few years, the respondents [the prosecution and attorney general] have continued to show utter helplessness,” the letter charged.
The four organizations cited various examples of alleged racist remarks by the organization and its director Bentzi Gopstein, pointing to fliers distributed by volunteers following an attack on an Arab youth in Jerusalem in 2012 which left him seriously injured and various remarks by Gopstein. The letter to the High Court also said that the distribution of information about Arabs who were dating Jewish women was a violation worthy of prosecution.
The petition was co-filed by the Abraham Fund, the Reform movement’s Israel Religion Action Center, the Coalition against Racism, and the Mossawa Center.
In response to the petition, Gopstein defended his right to free speech, and told the radio that rather than defending the rights of terrorists, the NGOs should concern themselves with the rights of the Jewish people.
Lehava recently made headlines after it organized a protest outside of the wedding of Jewish-born Morel Malka, who converted to Islam, and Israeli-Arab Mahmoud Mansour on August 17. The anti-assimilation activists published the wedding invitation online, and issued a public call to activists to join a rally outside the celebrations. After a court order barred the protesters from coming within 200 meters of the wedding hall, the demonstration went on as planned with a heavy police presence. Four activists were arrested after clashing with troops.