Home > Jewish Fundamentalism > Kahanists organize burning of Obama effigies in ritual bonfires [UPDATED]

Kahanists organize burning of Obama effigies in ritual bonfires [UPDATED]

UPDATE: A Facebook group for this campaign has opened, displaying images of some previous posters on the subject of POTUS. One is posted below, with the text “Barak Hussein Obama Anti-Semitic Jew-hater.” 


Lag B’Omer is a secondary Jewish holiday dating to Talmudic times whose origins are obscure. In Israel, one of its most widespread manifestations is the lighting of bonfires on the holiday eve, which this year (2010) occurs on Saturday, May 1.

Some celebrate by burning symbols of enemies in the bonfires. When I was a child, notebooks from the classes of particularly hated teachers served that purpose. In recent years, right-wing groups have organized to encourage the burning of photos and effigies of national enemies.

On Thursday (April 22 2010), IDF Radio revealed that a Kahanist group was adding a new national enemy to the pantheon of effigies burned at bonfires and getting ready for a mass distribution of the materials required. One of the organizers told listeners:

Today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.

It will be interesting to see whether the Anti-Defamation League will weigh-in on this new development.

Effigies of Obama distributed for burning on Lag B’Omer

Ma Boer, IDF Radio, April 22 2010 10:24 [Click here to listen to original recording in Hebrew]

Rino Tzror: Hello to Guy Varon, our correspondent in the territories. So they started to distribute effigies and pictures of Obama?

Guy Varon: After we have seen right-wing activists burning pictures of Saddam, Nasrallah and Arafat in recent years on Lag B’Omer, this year there is a new star, US Pres. Barack Obama.

Rino Tzror: Did you see an effigy of Obama?Guy Varon: We saw the effigies and the pictures. I also want to add that we say Barack Obama. These right wing people really like to say Hussein Obama.

Rino Tzror: Right.

Guy Varon: Pictures and effigies of the superpower leader will be distributed this year ahead of Lag B’Omer by rightwing activists. They explained that as far as they are concerned he is an enemy of Israel. His behavior harms Israel more than anything. For them the message is that Obama is bad for the Jews.

Rino Tzror: And they’re going to burn him on bonfires, like they used to burn pictures of Hitler, of all kinds of enemies of Israel. Is that the way Obama is going to be treated this Lag B’Omer?

Guy Varon: That is definitely the intention of the people who are giving out the pictures and the effigies.

Rino Tzror: Stay with us. Now we are going to talk to Bentzy Gopstein. Good morning.

Bentzy Gopstein: Good morning Rino.

Rino Tzror: You are a follower of Kahane, right?

Bentzy Gopstein: Right.

Rino Tzror: Who started this project of Obama effigies?

Bentzy Gopstein: There are a few friends together. They decided that today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.

Rino Tzror: No, I never burned Hussein. We used to burn Hitler. We used to go for the real villains, not the ones who maybe were and maybe weren’t.

Bentzy Gopstein: I don’t think maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. I think that Hussein Obama who wants to freeze construction in Jerusalem every minute, he would even like to just freeze Israel over. He pretends to be a friend but actually he loves Islam. He is an anti-Semite, nothing less.

Rino Tzror: So who is responsible for the actual industry, who produces them, how many, do you have any idea?

Bentzy Gopstein: There are printing presses that print it and then stick it on.

Rino Tzror: What picture of Obama did you choose?

Bentzy Gopstein: A nice one.

Rino Tzror: A nice one. With or without a keffiyeh? Did you add one? Did you touch it up?

Bentzy Gopstein: No keffiyeh. A real picture of him conveys a keffiyeh, even if you don’t put one on him.

Rino Tzror: It conveys it to you. How many effigies did you make?

Bentzy Gopstein: A few hundreds. We are in production now. Some have been made. We distribute through Facebook. We opened the group “Hussein Obama comes to the bonfire.” That is where people will join and receive the effigies.

Rino Tzror: And who are the people who take the effigies or the pictures that they want to burn?

Bentzy Gopstein: A lot of people. We have inquiries from children all over the country.

Rino Tzror: Children. That’s the problem. Maybe you are ruining them.

Bentzy Gopstein: We want to educate children while they are small. When you burn it, when you have a Lag B’Omer bonfire with children, education begins with children. We want to teach them that we have to trust God, not Obama.

Rino Tzror: Thank you, Bentzy Gopstein.

Bentzy Gopstein: You’re welcome.

Categories: Jewish Fundamentalism
  1. Phillip
    April 25, 2010 at 12:18


  2. Martin
    April 25, 2010 at 13:58

    Impressive. We do that here in New Jersey also:

    Cross Burned On Lawn Of N.J. Obama Supporter
    Family’s Obama Banner Went Missing The Night Before; Police Believe It Was Draped On 6-Foot Cross
    Incident Follows Alleged Bat Attack On Staten Island Teen


    I wonder how these guys would get along.

  3. April 25, 2010 at 15:31

    Pretty weak. If you have a to find a few teenagers goofing around and a picture of them dancing around on a holiday for moral equivalence to tens of thousands of evil Palestinian savages stealing and vandalizing and hurling rocks and firebombs and sniping at ordinary Jewish residents of the Jewish homeland including ‘territories’ and funded and abetted by the PA and its controlled media, then you are working with nothing. You are not reporting what Arabs say about Obama and the US in general.

    Furthermore Obama is not an innocent bystander. Many Jews are dead because of Obama and many more will die because of him, both civilians and IDF and especially the boys interviewed and their families. Burning an effigy is ‘not nice’, but it is just political theater. Setting someone up on an interview like this is the same as Shin Bet inciter Avishai Raviv printing up posters (with Shin Bet planning and money) of Rabin in a Nazi uniform to display legitimate right wing demonstrations, and using that to demonize the right wing. This is not in dispute. They are still at it.

    • April 25, 2010 at 15:39

      Classic disingenuous rhetoric. First posit a straw-man, in this case “moral equivalence” (no value judgement was made in post), supplemented by an abject lie (that the post is about the photo rather than the interview). Then subtly agree with the action. Lastly, sandwich with another straw-man — the insinuation that the Shin Bet is behind the whole thing.

      • April 25, 2010 at 16:16

        I would call it providing meaningful context missing from your value judgment-less post. The selection of the story and the fact of its posting provide the context, and considering you are both the headline editor and the photo editor for the piece they are legitimate elements for critical reading. Of course it is positing moral equivalence to the very real dangers posed by the Arab occupation surrounding the settlers. These young men live with an undercurrent of mortal danger to them and their families including their future families every day.

        This is a nothing story to begin with, on a scale with a story about a bather finding a note in a bottle thrown into the ocean ten years ago. From your headline one would think that there is a mass movement of political significance and implications for repressive actions required, when the reverse is true. And while neither of us have a pipeline into Shin Bet, their politicization in the marginilization and demonization of the religious-right is an established fact and not a straw man, and the use of the technique goes back to Arlosoroff. There is a direct line from Arlosoroff to Rabin, and the assasination of Jahane five minutes before he was poised to get fifteen seats in the upcoming Knesset election. For this small potatoes story I doubt that the Shin Bet itself needed to be involved, but who knows?

      • April 25, 2010 at 16:23

        And this same criticism, particularly of the importance of the story, the headline and the lack of context, is also applicable to Arutz 7: http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/203343? Or are they unrepresentative as well? Stop digging. Unless you want continue improving the optimization of this post, that is.

      • April 25, 2010 at 17:52

        And the same response holds. The selection of the story and the fact of its posting on INN has another meaning. On INN we are rather fond of Noam Federman and Kahanists. Whether or not we personally sign on to every choice they make, we know their hearts and values are in the right place. Federman has more history, cred, maturity and judgment than whatsisname interviewed above, and it is known that he has been harrassed, falsely imprisoned, had his civil rights violated and his home demolished for political reasons. Anyway, Obama rating an effigy-burning is a more meaningful statement than his getting a Nobel Peace prize, don’cha think?

  4. Lynn Fux
    April 25, 2010 at 16:37

    IRONIC IMMATURITY : How funny to see Israel’s true enemies burning effigies of Israel’s only real friend and perceived enemy. I am so ashamed!

  5. Shoded Yam
    April 25, 2010 at 16:40

    “Many Jews are dead because of Obama” How is that? Where are these dead Jews? In Queens? What’d they die of? Cardiac arrests the morning after the country elected a black president? Racist assholes.

    • April 25, 2010 at 18:14

      I suppose it depends what you mean by ‘many’. OK, seven were killed and twenty four injured, most of them in the month of Obama’s inauguration; and we know that there were multiple times that many attempted and foiled. Way to go, Barry.

      As far as racism goes, you know very well that if Obama was Jewish he would be supported by Jewish Jews, and if a Jew of any complexion acted as he does he would be opposed by Jewish Jews. What is a Jewish Jew? One whose grandchildren are or will be Jews. Hint, hint. Yours won’t be. For those who think this is a gratuitous remark, ‘Shoded Yam’ and I have had this discussion elsewhere.

  6. Shoded Yam
    April 25, 2010 at 18:47

    “… suppose it depends what you mean by ‘many’. OK, seven were killed and twenty four injured, most of them in the month of Obama’s inauguration; and we know that there were multiple times that many attempted and foiled. Way to go, Barry.”

    A supposition without basis in fact.

    “What is a Jewish Jew? One whose grandchildren are or will be Jews. Hint, hint. Yours won’t be. For those who think this is a gratuitous remark, ‘Shoded Yam’ and I have had this discussion elsewhere.”

    How would you know? You’re not even a man. The towel boy from the mikveh is referring to a remark he made about my 3 year old son on another blog. I guess he needed to pick on someone his own size. Jesus, it smells like fish in here. I can understand a rough day on the job, but did you have to bring your work home with you?

    For the record, I served in Zahal from 1983-87, and met my wife while we were both serving. We now live in the states. My wife is a sabra from a rather well known labour zionist family in Israel and we are both Jews. So, when the “son of anonymous” implys that my grandchildren will not be jewish, its more about his desires and that of his ilk rather than reality. he esposes a definition of Judaism that is as obsolete and moribund as he is and is illustrated by the fact that it has been rejected by the majority of Jews in the world today. Its not my grandchildren’s dienfranchisement he’s worried about. Its his own.

    • April 25, 2010 at 19:42

      What do mean without basis? I just Googled ‘israeli casualties 2009’ and got a summary. If it’s off one way or the other its good enough for this discussion. Are you saying Jews were not attacked and killed? Do you get any news? Hello?

      You get no points for having more opportunities than me. You have no interest in a Jewish Israel. You joined Zahal to satisfy your gun-sucking fantasies, not to further Zionism. Maybe to further post-Zionism. Israel noticed neither your arrival or your departure, other than the civilian boy you slugged because you thought you were Norman Mailer that day and you didn’t like his conversation at another table in a restaurant.

      And it was not me who made a remark about your three year old son; it was you who announced that you have no reason to expect that he will marry a Jew or have a Jewish marriage. And it is not me or Orthodox Jews or settlers who have regularly and consistently measured the Jewish affiliation of non-practicing Jews. They are evaporating into history at an accelerating rate like dry ice while the affiliated are taking root and breaking rocks like moss. Your ilk is between going and gone. My ilk will be the source of the Jewish AND Israeli future. Your ilk is trying to recreate the shtetl and the ghetto in a foreign dominated Palestine. My ilk is the inheritor of hiostoric Zionism by any name. My ilk is the fastest growing population, military enrollment, and political strength in Israel, with or without me personally.

      Therefore, with no vital or personal interest in a Jewish Israel or anything else, you are neither qualified nor get a vote on the Jewish or Israeli future. Taking the long view, you are already Jewishly dead.

  7. April 25, 2010 at 19:18

    G-d help. What kind of un-Jewish, superstitious and harmful tradition is that?! Did those blind guys ever think about how much they interfere with Jewish way of thinking and lifestyle by misusing it for their senseless political opinions? From a religious point of view, they’re transgressing 2 several prohibitions here but are just blind to that fact. What is the goal here if you miss the point completely… Well, expressing opinion in Israel would in this case be a democratic right I Suppose… I feel ashamed that Israelis have joined the list of flag and effigy burners all around the world. Never heard of that.

  8. Shoded Yam
    April 25, 2010 at 19:30

    Excellent blog, Mr. Remez. In enjoy the articles very much. Kol-Hakavod to you and your colleagues.

    Best Regards,


  9. Shoded Yam
    April 25, 2010 at 21:10

    What do mean without basis?

    Since you can’t prove that Mr. Obama was somehow responsible for these deaths and since you can’t disprove that the casualties in question are a result of an ongoing conflict regardless of whose President of the United States, your statement is just another strawman without basis in fact. Period.

    This has already been discussed and I’m not going to revisit the myriad ass-kickings I’ve had to inflict upon you. But just for the record, what I said was, that I should hope my son would marry someone he loves rather than base that decison upon other criteria. We live amongst other Jews. My son has Jewish friends, close Israeli relations, speaks hebrew and we are involved in Jewish life insofar as its necessary. I see no reason to believe that his chances of marrying a Jew are any less than that of any denizen of Chelm raised and nutured by a child-molesting rabbi and a pair of aquiescing parental units. In any case, this isn’t about Judaic continuity. This is about Jewish exceptionalism and theo-fascism professed by a minority of testicularly challenged melameds such as yourself seeking validation for a life spent exhorting others to do what they never had the balls or the inclination to do themselves. By the way, how are your daughters? Doing well in the settlements are they? I wouldn’t rent their rooms out just yet if I were you.

    “You joined Zahal to satisfy your gun-sucking fantasies, not to further Zionism.”

    I was drafted, like any other Israeli. I was neither enthused or dejected. I just accepted it as a matter of course and did my duty, regardless of how distasteful it might’ve been at certain times. As usual, I’ll leave the gun-sucking fantasies to cringing shtetl yids like yourself.

    When you can show a Pinhas Hoger, let the rest of us know.

    • April 25, 2010 at 21:53

      My widely held assertion is that the stated and unstated diplomatic and political pressures on Israel by this administration has emboldened Israel’s opponents and mortal enemies counting Iran beyond any administration in history, and intimidated Israel’s government beyond any administration in history. Demanding building freezes in Israel’s heartland and Jerusalem on deeded Jewish property and calling for shooting down Israeli planes over Iraqi airspace is to act as an enemy of Israel. If you think that is a straw man, you have the brains of a straw man.

      In terms of pulling rank, when your wife’s great-great-grandfather arrived in Arab-Palestine, my great-great-grandfather was visiting the grave of his own great-great-grandfather in Jewish-Palestine.

      My point about Jewish continuity had only to do with your stake in the future of a Jewish Israel. You don’t have one, if you ever did. Los Angeles is no more and probably less committed to a Jewish Israel than Queens. Everything about you is in the past. And you think you make it OK by changing the definition of Jewish and Israel, to Dhimmi in New-Palestine.

  10. Shoded Yam
    April 25, 2010 at 21:23

    By the way, I think it ill behooves either of us to continue to monopolize other peoples blogs for the purposes of continuing our feud. My apolgies Mr. Remez. I will endeavour to stay on topic in subsequent commentary.

    • April 25, 2010 at 21:57

      Good of you, considering you jumped on me in the midst of a principled disagreement I was having with someone else. I will likewise restrict my comments to the issues if permitted.

  11. shodedyam
    April 25, 2010 at 22:05

    I didn’t jump on you nancy-boy. I simply questioned the veracity of a comment made during your so-called “principled” disagreement about the article in question. I don’t think their is person here including Mr. Remez who would apply the word “principled” to you. However, I do hear the words “liar” and “disingenous” bandied about alot. Wow, and you’ve only been here for like what? Five minutes? That didn’t take long.

  12. Chaim
    April 26, 2010 at 18:13

    Judaism has been a part of my life, a part of my family, and a part of my history for my whole life. I’ve done my 3 years in the IDF to get my citizenship, I’ve studied my Torah, and I’ve tried to live in line with more than just the laws of my people, but the SPIRIT of my people. And I’m sure that I’m going to draw a lot of ire for this next statement, but that’s what the internet is for, really. Jews will scoff at its poor logic, non-Jews will use it to confirm their viewpoints about Jews, but here goes.

    I am disappointed in these kids as Jews, because I think we’re supposed to be better than this. Burning people in effigy? Dancing around flames? This is not what we do. These are the actions of people who can’t protest effectively, can’t solve problems through hard work or thoughtfulness, and can’t let their ire go unnoticed. This isn’t what we do. This isn’t what we should aspire to. This is what THEY do (They not specifically referring to Hizbollah, the Klan, or anything like that but the people who believe that that sort of protest is appropriate). This is not what WE do. And that’s the difference between US and THEM. I’m disappointed in us right now.

  1. April 25, 2010 at 12:09
  2. April 25, 2010 at 12:17
  3. April 25, 2010 at 16:07
  4. April 25, 2010 at 18:16
  5. April 26, 2010 at 06:26
  6. April 26, 2010 at 19:31
  7. May 29, 2010 at 23:03
  8. June 1, 2010 at 21:49

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