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Jewish extremist poses threat to Holy Land Christians, church body says

Benzion Gopstein (sometimes spelled "Gopshtein"), leader of the far-right Israeli group Lehava, gathers with fellow activists in Jerusalem December 25, 2014. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Nir Elias
Benzion Gopstein (C), sometimes spelled "Gopshtein, "leader of the far-right Israeli group Lehava, gathers with fellow activists in Jerusalem December 25, 2014.  Photo courtesy REUTERS/Nir Elias

Benzion Gopstein (sometimes spelled “Gopshtein”), leader of the far-right Israeli group Lehava, gathers with fellow activists in Jerusalem December 25, 2014. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Nir Elias

JERUSALEM (RNS) The church body authorized by the Vatican to oversee the Catholic Church’s property in Israel has asked Israel’s attorney general to indict a Jewish extremist who, it says, recently incited violence against Israel’s Christian churches.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday (Aug. 9), the Custody of the Holy Land said Benzion Gopstein, sometimes spelled “Gopshtein,” head of the Jewish extremist group Lehava, poses a threat to Holy Land Christians.

The letter cited comments by Gopstein, who, during an Aug. 4 panel discussion for yeshiva students, quoted the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides’ ruling that Christianity constitutes idolatry. Gopstein said that the biblical Book of Deuteronomy calls for the destruction of idol worship.


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“The writing is on the wall and the attack on people that will cause unknown results is not a matter of ‘if,’ but of ‘when,'” the group’s letter warned.

Sunday’s letter was the Christian world’s latest plea to Israeli authorities to find and prosecute the people responsible for more than 50 attacks against Christian and Muslim holy sites during the past few years. Israeli police are investigating the crimes, presumably carried out by far-right-wing Jewish extremists, according to a police spokesman.

The Rev. Pietro Felet, secretary general of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, on Friday filed an official complaint with the Israeli police against Gopstein, the assembly said in a statement.


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The complaint was signed by more than 20 patriarchs and bishops.

“The Catholic community in the Holy Land is fearful and feels in danger,” the statement said. The assembly called “on the Israeli authorities to ensure real protection for Christian citizens of this country and their places of worship.”

LM/AMB END CHABIN

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Michele Chabin

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  • I know your afflictions and your poverty–yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan………Revelation 2:9

    I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars–I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you………..Revelation 3:9

  • It’s funny that none of the usualy right-wing comments-section pundits on RNS have appeared to share their opinion on this piece? Perhaps it contradicts their politics?

  • Well and cue the antisemitism! I don’t think Christians get to determine who the ‘real’ Jews are and I also think that “Synagogues of Satan” has been used very often as a very unkind and antisemitic appellation.

  • All people of faith or no faith should be equally protected from persecution and terrorism.

    There is never any excuse for lawlessness. If that’s what the Jewish extremists are teaching, theirs is a false Judaism. They are disobedient to the Torah which clearly states that the alien is to be treated equally with the citizens–see Leviticus 19:34.

  • Thank you Sister Geraldine Marie! Yours is the voice of reason and of the Scriptures.
    Thank you for this well chosen text from the Torah, which has echoes throughout the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), and of course, on every page of the New Testament.
    Just within the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) themselves, there is an obvious progression of love reaching out and embracing all of humanity. Sure, for a little while there was some special focus on the Israelites, as they formed a special community in a deeper relationship with God than humanity had known earlier. But such statuses are temporary, and not to be clutched at. By the end of the 2nd Temple Period, and in the latter parts of Isaiah, to cite just one text, there is an opening of this relationship with God to the entire human family. All of Humanity is seen more and more as being the beloved children of God. This fundamentalist zionism is a regression to Bronze Age times. Grow up, Gopstein.

  • Cranmer,
    ” …I also think that “Synagogues of Satan” has been used very often as a very unkind and antisemitic appellation. ”

    You’re probably right. I’m not a fan of that book of the NT. I just happened to recall having read those passages and thought there could be a connection with the Jewish extremists mentioned in the article. No offense intended.

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