A worker collects items from inside a burnt classroom after an arson attack on the Hand in Hand school, a cross-faith school in Jerusalem, November 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
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A far right Israeli group that agitates against Arabs in the name of religion and national security is forcing the Jewish state into a legal and political balancing act as it tries to contain sectarian violence.Among their activities, Lehava activists yelling "Death to the Arabs" picketed the wedding in August of a Muslim man to a Jewish woman who converted to Islam. Now three members have been charged with an arson attack on a cross-faith school in Jerusalem last month.The authorities are under pressure to deal with anyone encouraging Jewish retaliation against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.Police rounded up 21 Lehava members, including its leader Benzion Gopshtein, after the attack on the school where Jewish and Arab children study together.The three men charged with the arson attack have yet to enter a plea, while Gopshtein argued he was being targeted for what he said, not what he did.Lehava's core cause is discouraging romances between Jews and gentiles, saying it is campaigning to preserve Judaism.Mainstream Israeli leaders have condemned the arson attack and other racist incidents.
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