The far-right Jewish organization Lehava, vehemently opposed to interethnic dating, has established two “shelters” for Jewish women who have had relationships with Arab men.
Lehava defines itself as an organization to prevent assimilation, and it works to prevent contact between Jewish women and Arab men. Its two “shelters” are apartments: One is in the West Bank, and the other is in the center of the country. The purpose is not to provide a refuge for battered women, but rather acts as an attempt by the organization to assist Jewish women in ending romantic relationships with Arab men.
Anat Gopstein, the wife of Lehava Chairman Bentzi Gopstein, operates the West Bank apartment. She claimed, “In the first days after a girl leaves an Arab man, she’s extremely confused and might respond to (his) overtures and return to him. We’re here so that won't happen.”
Working alongside her is Coral Ben Shabbat, a young woman from Nahariya who said that she left an Arab boyfriend with Gopstein’s help. “My entire family fought me,” Ben Shabbat recounted, “but it was only thanks to Lehava that I left an Arab that I was in a relationship with.
“Today I know how to talk to these young girls as equals because I was there, and I know where all the possible pitfalls lie. If there had been an apartment (when I was dating an Arab man) to flee to, I wouldn’t have gone further downhill.”
Bentzi commented on the apartments, “The girls that come to the apartments stay there for as long as they need. We’re here to protect them. Nobody can come here. We take care of everything, even educational institutions for women who come with children. The young women come here because the welfare authorities don’t help them.”
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)