Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) Tuesday threw his weight behind efforts by left-wing and Arab MKs against Bentzi Gopshtain, head of the Lehava anti-assimilation group, who attended a Knesset meeting earlier in the day that leftist MKs initiated to try and get his group outlawed.
MKs from the far-left Meretz and the Arab Joint List parties hurled vile curses at Gopshtain, preventing him from speaking, before being led from the room.
On Monday, when the MKs found out Gopshtain would appear to defend his group – which the courts have already ruled as being completely legal in its activities to prevent assimilation as per Jewish law – MK Xenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) wrote to Edelstein asking that Gopshtain be barred.
Speaking from the Knesset plenum following the meeting, Edelstein responded to the criticism over his allowing Gopshtain to appear at the meeting.
"Because numerous messages arrived at my office asking to bar the entrance of the Lehava chair to the Knesset, I turned to the legal office and to the officer of the Knesset, and because no legal reason was found to forbid his entrance to the Knesset, I couldn't block the entrance of an Israeli citizen who was invited to a committee discussion, otherwise what are we heading towards?" said Edelstein.
Taking aim at Gopshtain, he continued, "there are lots of people who I would really not like to see in the hallways of the Knesset because they simply aren't worthy of being here, but there's no way of doing that."
"I join the calls to have law enforcers take initiative and declare this organization (Lehava – ed.) as what it should be declared, and that will solve the problem once and for all," he said, in an open call to ban the group which works to prevent the dissipation of the Jewish people.
"I call on heads of committees to be doubly alert, even if it gives good headlines and TV cameras are in the room," he said, in an apparent criticism of MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), who filled in for the committee's regular chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) and stridently defended Gopshtain's right to speak.
"That is pertinent to everyone, not just one side or another. There were debates in the current Knesset and the previous Knesset to which people were invited who really shouldn't have had anything to contribute to the discussion other than scandal and media coverage."
When Gopshtain was finally able to speak in the discussion, he retorted: "There are Knesset Members here who are trying to prevent me from speaking. If they are leaving because of me I am glad, and I hope that in the future, I will be in the Knesset and they will leave it. There are MKs here who support terror attacks against IDF soldiers and they speak against me."
"I am sure MK Hasson doesn’t want his daughter to go out with an Arab. This is not racism. It is Judaism."