Benzi Gopstein writes to the Volunteers Association warning of the danger of assimilation
The Volunteers Association runs a project to “deepen and strengthen the ties between the Arab and Jewish populations”. Lehava organization chairman: “I rubbed my eyes.”
Lehava organization chairman Benzi Gopstein sent a letter to the chairman of the ‘Volunteers Association’, Yaron Lutz, as a result of the venture to deepen the connections between Arab and Jewish populations, sponsored by the Association.
Gopstein warned Lutz of the danger of assimilation, and offered to organize workshops to National Service girls on “the danger of assimilation, Jewish pride and Jewish identity.”
This is a new project that the Volunteers Association is running together with the “Guarantors for Each Other, Together” Association of Yosef Hadad, which includes 10 meetings for the purpose of “deepening and strengthening the connections between the Arab and the Jewish populations.”
“Some girls doing their National Service brought to my attention an ad posted on their Facebook page with the headlines ‘Guarantors for Each Other, Together’”, write Gopstein in his letter. “No, the intent there is not meant to be the real meaning of the sentence: ‘All of Israel are guarantors for each other’, but: ‘An opportunity to get to know Arab culture and heritage close-up. For the purpose of strengthening the connections between the Arab and the Jewish populations.’”
“I rubbed my eyes (in disbelief) to see whether I saw correctly, maybe this is a website of the Meretz party or Peace Now, but no, it’s on the Facebook page of the Volunteers Association, where most of our girls serve there in National Service”, he pointed out.
“To my sorrow, we of the Lehava organization, every year get more and more cases of National Service girls who met and fell in love with Arabs during their National Service, and this year, too, there have been a number of such cases. This year, too, there was a girl we were informed of who wants to convert to Islam because of a relationship that started during her National Service in a hospital”, he wrote. “Just last week, the divorce hearings between a girl who met an Arab during her National Service, converted to Islam and married, came to an end, and only after a number of years, with the assistance of the Lehava organization, she managed to return to Judaism and get divorced.”
“I would have expected that for the upcoming High Holidays, workshops would be taking place to get familiar with Jewish heritage, to learn of the importance of separation and differentiation between Israel and the nations, to learn about the dangers of assimilation. To know who we are, Am Israel, and what our uniqueness is”, he said.
“There’s no need to elaborate on the serious prohibition against assimilation, from which the Torah and our Sages so distanced themselves and warned about. I would like to believe that this is a simple mistake, that the chairman of the Volunteers Association and the rest of the committee members are not familiar with and do not know about this program. We of the Lehava organization would be happy to conduct a workshop for the girls on the dangers of assimilation, and on Jewish pride and Jewish identity”, wrote Lehava chairman Benzi Gopstein.
Response from the Volunteers Association: “The Volunteers Association operates many programs to volunteer and to strengthen social-civil resilience in the State of Israel, beyond National Service. This activity is not connected with the joint activities of National Service or to National Service volunteers working in the Volunteers Association. This program’s purpose is to strengthen the positive forces in Arab society that support the State of Israel and IDF soldiers, and within this framework, cooperation with the ‘Guarantors for Each Other, Together’ Association, headed by Yosef Hadad, a Christian Arab who served in the army, is created, and it works to support the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Yosef Hadad, CEO of ‘Guarantors for Each Other, Together’, says: “We are proud to promote a joint program with the Volunteers Association, which includes a series of meetings between young Jews and Arabs as a path to acquire mutual familiarity, a variety of activities and joint dialogue about the burning issues upon which we can build a bridge to a cooperative life in Jewish society. We are all citizens of the State and live here together, and the call of the hour is to work to bring Jewish and Arab citizens of the State closer to each other.”
In his words, “Instead of inciting against Arabs and condemning an initiative for life in a partnership in the Israeli mosaic as ‘danger of assimilation’, Benzi Gopstein should look for headlines elsewhere. We prefer to focus on positive actions, to bridge the gaps and to fight against racism in Israel. By the way, there is also a minority in Arab society that advocates separatism and attacks us on this venture.”
“I’m proud to lead the ‘Guarantors for Each Other, Together’ Association, an Israeli-Arab association of young people linked with their Arab and their Israeli identity and when extremists from both sides attack us, I know we’re on the right track”, says Yosef Hadad, the CEO of the Association.