Bentzi Gopstein

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Gopstein at a rally.
Suppress the dissenters
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Ben-Zion "Bentzi" Gopstein (also transliterated as Gophstein) (1969–) is a far-right Israeli activist, and the founder and current leader of Lehava, a Jewish fundamentalist and supremacist group.[1] He is also a member of Otzma Yehudit (the Jewish Power party), another far-right Jewish nationalist party.[2] He was a student of Meir Kahane (the founder of Lehava), a racist Zionist who was staunchly anti-Arab. In 2019, Gopstein was charged with inciting violence, terrorism, and racism.[3]

Gopstein’s influence in Israeli politics has been noted as part of the increasing trend within the spread of the far-right in Israel. Despite his racist and fascist rhetoric (including against Christians), his statements have been ignored by Christian Zionists and American conservatives and rightists who constantly claim that there is a War on Christmas (ignoring the fact that Gopstein and his supporters are waging an actual war on Christians).[4]

Disciple of Kahane[edit]

Gopstein was a student of Meir Kahane and a follower of Kahanism, a far-right Jewish supremacist ideology. He was also a member of the Kach party, a party that was banned in Israel for its extremism such as inciting hate crimes and terrorism against Arabs in Palestine. Gopstein has also praised massacres committed in the cave of patriarchs in 1994 by fellow Kahanist, Baruch Goldstein. He has participated in memorials to Kahane since his death.[5]

Immediately after Kahane was assassinated in 1990, Gopstein and his fellow Kahanists were arrested in addition for the unsolved murder of an Arab civilian. Gopstein and several other Kahanists were released due to a lack of evidence.[6]

Lehava leader[edit]

In 2005, Gopstein founded and has continued to lead Lehava, a far-right radical Jewish group advocating for the segregation of gentiles in Israel. Many Lehava members have been convicted of hate crimes against Muslims and Christians (many of them being Palestinian Arabs) and have advocated for irredentism by annexing Palestine and absorbing the land as part of Israel.[7]

Ties to the Israeli government[edit]

Gopstein is closely tied with the current far-right government in Israel, such as with Itamar Ben-Gvir. Some reports state that he is an advisor for Ben-Gvir and his far-right government coalition on domestic issues (such as the treatment of Christians and Muslims).[8]

Because of his far-right politics, he has been banned from running for election in the Knesset (Israeli national legislature). However, Gopstein still has significant influence among the far right in the government.[9] Gopstein was later granted political amnesty by Gvir and Benjamin Netanyahu to allow him to help spread their influence and gain more power in Israeli politics via right-wing populism.[10]

Segregationist politics[edit]

Gopstein has made many inflammatory statements about and has incited violence towards Arabs, Muslims, and Christians, and has protested against intermarriage between Jews and non Jews (especially Arabs). In one example, he and a crowd of Lehava activists protested at the wedding between an Arab Muslim man and a Jewish woman who converted to Islam.[11]

Gopstein has also made several bigoted comments against Christians as well. In one interview, he referred to Christians as “vampires and parasites[12] who suck the blood of Israel (which is ironic as European Christian fundamentalists in the past referred to Jews as vampires[13]) and who must be expelled from Israel.[14] He has called for the destruction of churches by burning them[15] and has also advocated for a ban on Christmas since in his view it has no place in the Holy Land.[16]


  13. The Antisemitic History of Vampires. Bram Stoker's original blood-thirsty, wealth-hoarding degenerate was no doubt based on antisemitic stereotypes, but a lot has changed since then. by Rob Silverman-Ascher (October 26, 2021) Hey Alma.