Extremist religious leader says there's no place for Christmas in Israel

The leader of a far-right organization in Israel reportedly is calling for Christmas celebrations to be banned in the country where, according to the Christian Bible, Jesus lived, sparking outrage from religious groups who are demanding an investigation into his remarks.

Benzi Gopstein of Lehava wrote “Christmas has no place in the Holy Land” on an ultra-Orthodox Jewish website earlier this week, according to the Daily Telegraph and other Israeli media outlets. Gopstein also called on Christians to be expelled from Israel.

“Let us remove the vampires before they once again drink our blood,” Gopstein wrote.

Gopstein’s article sparked outrage from several religious groups who called on Israel’s deputy prosecutor to investigate the matter, according to The Telegraph.

“This statement was not made in a vacuum but in the context of many acts of violence against Christian clergy in recent years,” the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism and the Coalition Against Racism said in a statement.

Lehava is a far-right Israeli organization and is widely known for its violent campaign against relationships between Jews and non-Jews. The group gained international spot light after an arson attack on a Jewish Arab School last year.

Gopstein’s comments come after suspected extremists hurled two smoke grenades into a Palestinian home near Ramallah Tuesday morning. The residents managed to escape unscathed. Graffiti was written on the walls of the home, including “hello from the detainees of Zion,” which refers to the people being interrogated by Israeli security forces on suspicion of taking part in an attack on a Palestinian family six months ago, according to The Telegraph.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, has come under fire recently over the detention of the Israel suspects, who are accused of firebombing a Palestinian home in July. The security service has been accused of torturing the suspects. Despite protests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed the Shin Bet.

Lehava was founded as an organization to prevent the marriage between Jews and Arabs, according to the Times of Israel. The group quickly became attached with extremism and reportedly even patrolled downtown Jerusalem looking for “mixed” couples.

Approximately 160,000 Israeli citizens are Christian.

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