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TikTok said to block account of far-right racist group Lehava

Bentzi Gopstein, extremist leader of anti-assimilation movement, calls video-sharing app’s move a ‘disgrace’; account was less than a week old

Benzi Gopstein, leader of the extremist group Lehava, speaks at a ceremony in Jerusalem honoring the late Jewish extremist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane on November 17, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Benzi Gopstein, leader of the extremist group Lehava, speaks at a ceremony in Jerusalem honoring the late Jewish extremist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane on November 17, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The popular video-sharing app TikTok has blocked the new account of the far-right group Lehava for violating its community standards, a report said Sunday.

Lehava opposes intermarriage and assimilation of Jews and non-Jews, as well as LGBT rights, and tries to stifle any public activity by non-Jews in Israel, including coexistence events. Lawmakers across the political spectrum have tried to designate it as a terrorist group.

The organization, led by extremist Bentzi Gopstein, opened its account last week to deliver its messages on the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app.

But when three of its first four videos were blocked, Lehava appealed to TikTok, whereupon one video was reinstated, according to Army Radio, which didn’t cite a source.

Then on Friday, TikTok informed Lehava that its account was being shuttered for “repeated violations of community standards,” according to the report.

“You can find all the trash on TikTok but to talk about assimilation is forbidden there. A disgrace,” Gopstein wrote on Twitter.

In a longer recorded response, Gopstein said: “When I went on TikTok for the first time, I was shocked by the amount of pornography there, the number of Arabs making fun of Jewish men and women, and the nonsense being fed to our children and adolescents. I said I must create a ray of light there that will teach a bit about Judaism and fight assimilation.

The social media application logo TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone, in Arlington, Virginia, April 13, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

“Unfortunately, those who always highlight the importance of democracy complained to TikTok and caused them to close Lehava’s account. I very much hope TikTok will reverse its decision.”

The report said TikTok did not comment.

Gopstein, a follower of extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, is a member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party and was banned by the Central Election Committee from running in last year’s and this year’s elections over his views, which were deemed racist. The party didn’t cross the electoral threshold.

Facebook has also taken action against Lehava in recent years, and in July users noticed that the mere mention of Gopstein’s name — even if it was to criticize him — would result in the post being removed and the poster being blocked from posting for several days.

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