A loud knock on my door wakes me up early one Sunday morning, and I hear my son call out, “Has there been a terrorist attack?” We quickly head downstairs to shouting and a loud ruckus.
Bentzi Gopstein, 26/10/17
It’s Sunday morning,5:00am. There was a loud pounding on my door. My son calls out, “Has there has been a terrorist attack?” We quickly head downstairs to the sound of shouting. We hear, “Police! Open the door or we will break it down.” I opened the door. Ten policemen burst into my house and confiscate my phone. I was unable to call my lawyer, Itamar Ben-Gvir.
They presented a search warrant for “Harassment and threats of a girl”. All of our computers, cell phones, cameras and even Lahava printed publications were confiscated. One of the titles from the pamphlet was, “Don’t go out with Mahamad. He may be cute now, but then you’ll be his slave.”
The police, accompanied by Shabak agents, even managed to discover and confiscate a list of Jewish girls that are currently involved with Arab men. In that same document, there was also private and secret information relevant to the judicial system.
During the trip to Jerusalem, the police spokesperson issued a statement to the media about 15 suspects who were arrested following a covert investigation by the police and the Shin Bet security service. The statement had nothing to do with attacks by Arabs or Arabs detained who had planned attacks. The statement was about “15 suspects who had been arrested due to organized activity to prevent assimilation….”
We arrived at the station in Jerusalem, and I am interrogated about the last time I was at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem. When I told him that I did not remember and that I have other places I prefer to wander about, he told me the name of a girl, and accused me of approaching her and telling her , “It’s not good for you to go out with Arabs. Your deceased grandparents are crying about it. “ He continued stating that I had also given the girl a Lahava pamphlet.
I told the police officer that, although it was not I who spoke to this girl, this is exactly what I would say to a girl if I knew she was going out with an Arab. The next thing I was being released, and that they had contacted my lawyer, Itamar Ben-Gvir..
But apparently my release was not what the police had wanted; as they were more interested in headlines in “Haaretz”. An officer arrived and announced, “We have decided to arrest you and you will be detained until you can stand before a judge.” The officer looked at the interrogator and said, “Continue to interrogate him, I’m sure we’ll find more crimes that he’s accused of.” I was then further questioned, this time on the charge of “Conspiring to commit a crime.” As proof they presented a document they say that they seized containing a list of Jewish women who are known to be associating with Arab men. I asked myself, “Why do they have this list, how did it get to this office?”
“I answered the simple question first. Unfortunately I have thousands of names of girls who have found Arab partners. We try to convince them, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we just have to continue to try. When the parents of these girls turn to the police, their response is often, ‘Sorry, there is nothing that we can do.’ The parents turn to us. They know we are attentive. They know we have a mission to bring their daughters home.”
“I continued to be interrogated, he then shows me conversations from a message group called, “Do Not Assimilate.” This documentation explains the way(s) to approach an Arab and explain why it is forbidden to go out with a Jewish woman … I ask, “How does this relate to me?” And then I was told that whoever wrote this must be part of Lahava. I ask myself, “How can this person be actively passing out this material, yet I’m not aware of it?”
That evening, I was handcuffed and brought in front of a judge. I am presented to the judge, as the head of a criminal organization that fights assimilation. The judge was presented with supporting evidence, including the same document seized in the office. A religious police representative discussed with my attorney, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and tried to – unsuccessfully – explain the legal problems of telling a girl that it is not good for her to go out with an Arab.
Itamar Ben-Gvir then revealed the real reason for my arrest: The Supreme Court (Reform Movement) and all those who encourage intermarriage, want me to be tried in court. After all, three years ago there were well-publicized arrests of Lahava activists. The State requested an extension for one week, to allow them more time to investigate Lahava and gather more evidence that would support their case to try to prevent Lahava from continuing their activity.
The judge took a recess, and upon his return, he concludes that as there is only a slight suspicion against me, it does not justify arrest and detention. I am released, but again the police decided to appeal to the District Court.
After another whole day of being detained, a whole day of my human rights being violated, I was finally brought back to stand before the judge. My release was granted, the judge who released me and informed me that I was released as there was very little evidence to suggest criminal activity.
Will I stop my efforts working on behalf of Jewish young women? Of course not! Arrests, interrogations and detentions only serve to strengthen us further. Do you know…..on the day that I spent in detention we received more than twenty requests for help for girls! The Reform Movement and the New Israel Fund have again suffered a defeat in their war against Lahava.
The War of assimilation is not racism, it is Judaism! And I look forward to the times when voices together condemn the harassment against Lahava. They will learn, they are not fighting against only me but against Judaism. Remember what we say each morning, “Blessed is he who made me a non-Jew”
Today, you may want to stay silent. Today you may not want to identify with the extremists. But next Saturday night, after you’ve singing Havdalah, declaring, Distinguishing between sacred and profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations,” expect a fierce knock on your door and hear the accusation of “racism”.