According to a press release issued by the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries on Friday, Father Pietro Felet, Secretary General of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, filed an official complaint to the Israeli police, Friday morning, against the leader of radical Israeli organization Lehava, Bentsi Gopstein, demanding he be brought to justice for advocating the torching of churches.
The complaint, filed on behalf of over than twenty patriarchs and bishops, expressed “concern over what was described to be growing security challenges to churches, people and buildings alike, in areas under Israel’s sovereignty or control.”
The complaint referred to several attacks that targeted churches and Christian holy sites by radical parties and hinted that in vast majority of these criminal incidents criminals were not brought to justice.
The complaint was referring to remarks made by Gopstein during a panel debating Jewish religious law, last Tuesday night in Jerusalem.
Responding to a question on whether he “is in favor of burning churches in the Land of Israel,” Gopstein answered: “Did the Rambam rule to destroy [idol worship] or not? Idol worship must be destroyed. It’s simply yes – what’s the question?”
He was reported in another version as answering, apparently alluding to the rulings of the 12th century Jewish ‘sage’ Mainonides “The law is straightforward; Maimonides’ interpretation is that one must burn idolatry. There’s not a single rabbi that would deliberate that fact. I expect the government of Israel to carry that out.”
When the panel moderator warned him that the panel was filmed and if the recording get to police he would be arrested, Gopstein said: “That’s the last thing that bothers me. If that’s the truth then I’m prepared to sit 50 years in prison for it.”
The complaint was made one day after the Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a press statement vehemently denouncing the Israeli government’s “tolerance toward Gobshtai and other extremists who advocate murdering and terrorizing Palestinians and setting fire to their property.”
The Foreign Ministry held the Israeli government fully responsible for the consequences of such “racist and provocative” calls that have resulted in murdering Palestinians in the most atrocious fashion, particularly the burning to death of 18-month-old Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha and critically injury of his family members in an arson attack on a house in the Nablus village of Douma.
The Ministry, given a rise in the cycle of violence and counter-violence, slammed Israeli government’s policies and disregard of rising bloody extremism as responsible for the proliferation of the culture of hatred, violence and racism.
In December 2014, several Lehava members, including Gopstein himself, who lives in a settlement inside the West Bank city of Hebron, were detained on charges of setting fire to a first-grade classroom at Jerusalem’s Hand-in-Hand school on November 29. Daubed on the walls in Hebrew were slogans reading ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘There’s no coexistence with cancer.’
Lehava activists follow the teachings of the late Meir Kahane, a virulently anti-Arab rabbi whose Kach party and another offshoot were banned in 1994 after one of its members gunned down 29 Muslims in a flashpoint mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron.