Press Release

ADL: Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein’s Extremist Views “Have No Place Within Jewish Tradition or in A Democratic Society”

New York, NY, August 10, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said it was outraged and appalled at remarks made by Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein, Director of Lehava, a far-right extremist organization in Israel, who was quoted saying that he favors the burning of churches and compared Christianity to idol worship.

According to reports, Gopstein, who made the remarks during a symposium in Jerusalem on Jewish religious law on August 4, was asked: “Are you in favor of burning [churches] or not?” Gopstein replied: “Of course I am! It’s Maimonides. It’s a simple yes. What’s the question?”

“Rabbi Gopstein’s views have no place within the Jewish tradition or in a democratic society,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL National Director. “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.”

“His inflammatory words and actions are the dictionary definition of a ‘hillul hashem,’ a desecration of God’s name,” said Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs. “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.”

ADL noted that Gopstein, who follows the teachings and ideologies of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, has a lengthy history of anti-Arab, anti-democratic and homophobic statements and is also associated with groups that use violence. A number of his followers have been arrested or placed on administrative detention in the wake of the arson at the Church of the Multiplication in northern Israel and the terrorist attack in the West Bank village of Duma.