Far-right Israeli activists protest Jerusalem Christmas event

Jas Chana

(JTA) — A group of far-right Jewish activists protested outside the Jerusalem YMCA over an event they believed encouraged Jewish children to decorate Christmas trees.

Members of Lehava, a group in Israel that opposes Arab-Jewish coexistence, claimed that Sunday’s event decorating the trees was targeting Jewish children. The event was intended for Jerusalem Christians.

“The appeal was in Hebrew this year, and meant for all of Jerusalem’s children, especially the Jewish ones,” a Lehava member said, according to Haaretz.

The group gathered outside the YMCA building chanting “The Arabs won’t defeat us with knifes, and the Christians won’t buy us with presents,” Israel National News reported. “Jews want a hanukkiah [menorah], not a fir tree,” the group shouted.

Lehava leader Benzi Gopstein reportedly was at the protest.

“It is inconceivable that at a time when there are daily attacks in Jerusalem, a gathering is held that is entirely an attempt to convert Jews,” Gopstein said at the event, according to Haaretz.

Lehava is no stranger to controversy. In August, members protested against the Jerusalem gay pride parade. Last year, they also protested against a marriage between an Israeli Muslim man and a Jewish woman.

In October, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he was considering outlawing the organization for inciting violence, Haaretz reported.

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