TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The grandson of right-wing Jewish activist Rabbi Meir Kahane was arrested late Monday on charges of "involvement in an extremist Jewish organization."
Officials specifically declined to say if Meir Ettinger, 23, is suspected of involvement in an arson case on the West Bank that killed a Palestinian baby.
That incident had been blamed on Jewish extremists.
Kahane's writings and speeches were influential in starting anti-Palestinian pro-Jewish militant groups in Israel; he was assassinated in New York by a Muslim activist in 1990.
The baby, 18 months old, was burned to death, and family members were badly injured. The attack on their home came a day after a girl, 16, was stabbed to death at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem and died.
The incidents, blamed on ultra-nationalist Israelis, led to a change in Israeli law allowing detention of Jewish citizens for up to six months, and will likely provoke a government crackdown on far-right Jewish groups.
Ettinger denied the allegations against him upon arrest; his lawyer, Yuval Zemer, contended he has been made a scapegoat by a government eager to appease public anger over the arson.
While the Shin Bet, Israel's police agency, declined to connect Ettinger to the fire, it said it uncovered a far-right movement responsible for the bombing of a Catholic church and other hate crimes, accusing Ettinger of leading the group. It added the group vandalized Christian religious sites and planned to disrupt the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel in 2014. A month ago a blog, written by Ettinger, encouraged more bombing of Christian sites.
A recent blog entry was critical of the Israeli government's "sin of allowing idol worship here, particularly churches and monasteries, in the Land of Israel, where the sound of church bells interferes with the pleasant sound of Torah and prayer. There is no terror organization, but there are many, many Jews, many more than one might think, whose value systems are completely different from those of the Supreme Court or the GSS (the General Security Service), and who are not bound by the ignorant laws of the state."