Norway Jews demand dismissal of Bnei Akiva official who urged vengeance

Norway Jews demand dismissal of Bnei Akiva official who urged vengeance

Youth movement chief removes Facebook post demanding IDF be an avenging army in response to murdered teens

Illustrative photo of the IDF in the West Bank. June 19, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Majdi Mohammed)
Illustrative photo of the IDF in the West Bank. June 19, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Majdi Mohammed)

Norway’s Jewish community is seeking the dismissal of the secretary general of the World Bnei Akiva movement after he called for the murder of three Israeli teens to be avenged with blood.

Rabbi Noam Perel made the call in a Facebook post on Monday hours after the bodies of three Israeli teens were discovered in a field north of Hebron, 18 days after they were reported missing. Israel said Hamas terrorists abducted and killed the teens.

Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were abducted and murdered in the West Bank, near Hebron on June 12.

In an open letter sent Thursday to World Zionist Organization and Jewish National Fund officials and to other leaders of Scandinavian Jewish communities, Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community in Oslo, demanded that Perel be dismissed.

While the killings invoke “all kinds of feelings of rage in each and every one,” Kohn wrote, Perel’s message “goes against everything we believe in and the moral attitudes we try to instill in our children.”

Perel deleted — and apologized for — his post, in which he wrote, “The travesty will be atoned for with the enemy’s blood, not with our tears. A whole nation and thousands of years of history demands revenge. The government of Israel is convened for a meeting of vengeance that is not a mourning sitting. Leaders have gone crazy at the sight of the bodies of our sons, a government that would make the army of searchers into an army of avengers.”

In the last few days, the entire Jewish people and the nation of Israel has been in enormous pain. The loss of our sons…

Posted by Noam Perel on Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Bnei Akiva is a worldwide religious Zionist youth movement.

In responses to inquiries from the media about the post, Perel explained that his intention was that, historically, the Israel Defense Forces has always given a military response to attacks on Israel. The Bnei Akiva organization backed Perel on his call for maintaining a deterrent based on action.

Nonetheless, Perel removed the message and replaced it with a more toned-down text that stressed the idea of a deterrent, rather than revenge, the Walla news site reported.

“I wholeheartedly pray that the government of Israel will muster its forces to return the deterrent among our enemies,” reads the new text.

After the bodies of Yifrach, Shaar and Fraenkel were found Monday, thousands of Israelis, including many soldiers in uniform, took to social-media sites to post dozens of photos and messages pledging revenge for the three teenagers’ killing, often using racist language.

Seven IDF soldiers were sentenced to short terms in prison Thursday for posting photographs on the Internet calling for retaliation for the killing of the teenagers — statements that, according to the army, constitute a breach of military discipline.

A Facebook page titled “The People of Israel Demand Vengeance!” had over 32,000 “Likes” on Wednesday, but was taken down by Thursday morning. Other smaller pages, bearing the same campaign name, could still be found on the social network.

Early Wednesday, an Arab teen was abducted from an area north of Jerusalem. A burned body was found hours later in a forest near the Israeli capital.

Israel police suspect it was a reprisal attack by Jewish Israeli extremists seeking to avenge the abduction and killing of the three Israelis.

Marissa Newman contributed to this report.

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