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Photo: AFP
Benzi Gopstein following a recent arrest. (Photo: AFP)
Photo: AFP
MK to Lehava head: 'You're ISIS with a kippah'
Chaos breaks out between MKs and extremist Lehava leader Benzi Gopstein during Knesset Internal Affairs committee discussion on outlawing far-right organization.

A Knesset Internal Affairs committee discussion on Tuesday morning, held under the heading "Activities of Lehava members in Jerusalem against the city's residents," descended into chaos as MKs tried to prevent Lehava head Benzi Gopstein from speaking.

 

 

Lehava, whose name is a Hebrew acronym for "preventing assimilation in the holy land," is a far-right organization that actively works to prevent relationships between Jews and Arabs, in particular Jewish women and Arab men.

 

Benzi Gopstein, head of far-right organization Lehava.
Benzi Gopstein, head of far-right organization Lehava.

 

The session was convened by Meretz MK Michal Rozin and chaired by Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich, who also sponsored Gopstein's attendance.

 

After Gopstein started speaking, several MKs began shouting over him. The two sides traded insults and threats before Smotrich ordered the MKs – among them Rozin and fellow Meretz MKs Tamar Zandberg and Isaawi Faraj, Zionist Union MKs Yoel Hasson and Itzik Shmuli and Joint List MK Dov Khenin – to be removed from the room.

 

Meretz MK Ilan Galon shouted at Gopstein, "You are the juice of trash, you're the foreskin of the Jewish Ku Klux Klan, you're the trash of the trash."

 

Rozin joined in, shouting, "Fascist, you're a terrorist who preaches racism and violence."

 

In response, Gopstein told the MKs, "I am worried about Jews and you are worried about terrorists. You work against the people of Israel."

 

To Joint List MK Osama Saadi, who asked for Gopstein to be removed, the Lehava head said, "You're terrorists who are sitting in the Knesset; in a civilized country you'd all be in jail."

 

MK Faraj, who was forcefully ejected from the room along with Rozin, told Gopstein, "You're a murderous terrorist," to which Gopstein retorted, "You're all anti-democratic, you aid terrorists."

 

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli joined the chorus, telling Gopstein, "You bring great shame on Israeli society. You tell left-wingers that they're 'leftist traitors,' so what do you say to a Zionist Union MK like me?

 

"You're ISIS with a kippah," he continued. "Don't make threats! What are you going to do? Send your 'Revolutionary Guard' to Lod as well?"

 

Lehava head Benzi Gopstein speaking at the organization's demonstration against this year's gay pride parade in Jerusalem. (Photo: gettyimages)
Lehava head Benzi Gopstein speaking at the organization's demonstration against this year's gay pride parade in Jerusalem. (Photo: gettyimages)

 

Smotrich then told the MKs, "Unlike you, I am a democrat." Gilon shot back, "Not long ago you volunteered as a hangman."

 

Gopstein caused further uproar when he asked Hasson, "Would you be prepared for your daughter to marry an Arab?" The Arab MKs in the room shouted angrily at him, asking him what concern it was of his and calling him a "terrorist, racist Nazi."

 

In response, Hasson told Gopstein, "You are on borrowed time. You will spend your life in jail."

 

A police representative in the session stated that he could not provide details of the ongoing criminal investigation of Lehava's activities due to Gopstein's presence in the room.

 

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein (Likud), responding later on Tuesday to the events, said, "I had no legal reason to bar Gopstein from coming into the Knesset. I cannot bar an Israeli citizen who has been invited to a discussion."

 

At the same time, however, Edelstein urged lawmakers to outlaw Lehava.

 

When submitting her request for the discussion to be held, Rozin wrote, "We are seeing marches of hate in Jerusalem, as part of the activities of Lehava, that are riling up, inciting and encouraging violence against Arabs.

 

"The police must show they are taking action to prevent violence and maintain public order and the safety of innocents."

 

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