ADL slams Jewish extremist for church-burning comment

ADL slams Jewish extremist for church-burning comment

‘No Jew acquainted with Jewish history should call for destruction of houses of worship,’ says advocacy group

Jonathan Greenblatt. (CC BY-SA PopTech, Flickr)
Jonathan Greenblatt. (CC BY-SA PopTech, Flickr)

The Anti-Defamation League advocacy group condemned on Monday anti-Christian comments by an extremist Israeli right-wing activist last week.

Bentzi Gopstein, head of Lehava, a far-right group that opposes Arab-Jewish coexistence and whose members have been indicted for inciting racism and arson attacks against interfaith and multiethnic institution, announced last week he supported the burning of churches in the land of Israel.

Asked by Haredi newspaper editor Benny Rabinovich, who runs the Bnei Brak-based Yeted Ne’eman daily, if he supported attacks on churches such as the June arson attack against the Church of the Multiplication in the Galilee, Gopstein replied, “Of course…. What’s the question?”

“No Jew with even a passing acquaintance with Jewish history should ever call for the destruction of houses of worship, be they Christian, Muslim or Jewish. He should apologize for these appalling statements,” ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Rabbi Gopstein’s views have no place within the Jewish tradition or in a democratic society.”

Benzi Gopstein, head of Lehava, in Jerusalem's Old City, October 30, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Benzi Gopstein, head of Lehava, in Jerusalem’s Old City, October 30, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“In the current climate, rather than seek to build bridges of peace and understanding, Rabbi Gopstein continues to incite not only against Christians and Muslims, but against all, including Jews, who do not share his radical and extremist views,” said the group’s director of interfaith affairs, Rabbi David Fox Sandmel.

Gopstein, ADL said, “has a lengthy history of anti-Arab, anti-democratic and homophobic statements and is also associated with groups that use violence.”

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