Head of Israel’s far-right Jewish Power party indicted on terrorism and racism charges


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jewish extremist Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein was indicted on charges of incitement to violence and racism and support for terrorism.

The indictment was announced Tuesday by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office.

Gopstein serves as head of the far-right Jewish Power party, or Otzma Yehudit, but was banned from running in national elections in September over past statements against Arabs that are considered incitement to racism.

Preceding elections in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orchestrated a controversial agreement between Jewish Power and Jewish Home, a religious Zionist party, in an effort to increase the united party’s chances of gaining enough votes to enter Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Gopstein, who is head of the Lehava anti-coexistence group, was indicted for comments published in the media between 2012 and 2017. Lehava opposes intermarriage and joint Jewish-Arab initiatives.

Gopstein has called Arabs the “enemy” and “a cancer,” and said he would not allow Arab workers at the events hall where his daughter’s wedding was held. He also said “there’s no shortage of Arabs who deserved to be beaten up,” referring to those who date Jewish women.

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