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Vatican to Israel: Arrest Activist for Citing Maimonides

553870Lehava director Gopshtain targeted in Vatican letter to attorney general, after claiming Jewish law calls to burn churches.

A representative of the Vatican in Israel on Sunday contacted Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in a letter demanding he indict Bentzi Gopshtain, director of the Lehava anti-assimilation group, for comments he made on a recent panel on Jewish law.

“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,'” wrote the representative.

The letter comes following a complaint submitted by the Catholic Church in Israel on behalf of the Vatican, which accused Gopshtain of “incitement” to violence – just after the Israel Security Agency (ISA) last Tuesday admitted that Lehava is perfectly legal.

The Vatican’s call to arrest Gopshtain focuses on statements made when he took part in a panel debating Jewish law last Tuesday, during which he said he supported burning churches, in an answer he claimed was based on a ruling by the famed 12th century CE Jewish scholar Rambam (Maimonides).

Explaining his comments, Gopshtain said afterwards, “the law is straightforward: Rambam’s 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.”

In the panel the Lehava director said he was not afraid of being arrested for his comments. He later elaborated, saying, “I said that for speaking the truth, I am prepared to sit in prison. And I emphasized that I don’t burn and won’t go and burn churches.”


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