The son of an Israeli-American man who died Tuesday two weeks after being shot and stabbed in a Jerusalem terror attack blamed online incitement for the death of his father.
Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old former American school principal and civil rights activist, was shot in the head and stabbed in the chest in the October 13 attack on a crowded Jerusalem bus, in which two other Israeli men were killed.
He had taken the bus home from a doctor’s appointment, his family said Tuesday, because he had been worried about the spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks in the area.
“It cannot be that the world’s most powerful social network, whose influence is probably greater than that of heads of state… allows terrorists to call for the murder of innocent Jews,” Micha Lakin told Channel 2 television, in a likely reference to Facebook. “He died as a result of the same incitement and hatred he fought against his entire life.”
Lakin was lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social media platform of ignoring widespread Palestinian posts calling for violence against Jews, which was filed Monday.
In the suit filed in New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, the 20,000 Israeli plaintiffs claim that Facebook posts have inspired many recent terror attacks and that “Facebook’s algorithms and platform connects inciters to terrorists who are further encouraged to perpetrate stabbings and other violence attacks against Israelis.”
Israeli government officials have pointed to Palestinian incitement, much of it spread via social media networks, as a major factor behind the wave of stabbings and other attacks over the last few weeks.
Eleven Israelis have been killed since mid-September in the near-daily attacks, amid widespread violence that has also rocked the West Bank and Gaza. Nearly 50 Palestinians have been killed in the latest round of violence, half of them attackers, according to Israel.
In the TV interview, Lakin also recalled his father’s efforts to foster coexistence and his affiliation with the civil rights movement.
“Dad believed in coexistence and before immigrating to Israel in the 1980s he worked in the United States to promote dialogue and equality. He was a social activist and marched alongside Martin Luther King to protest against racism,” Lakin said.
Lakin moved to Israel from Connecticut along with his wife, Karen, and their two teenage children 32 years ago. They settled in Jerusalem, where he and his wife opened a business focused on teaching English to people of all ages and backgrounds, including many Palestinian children from the area. He was still teaching students up until the day of the attack.
He authored two books, one of them titled “Teaching as an Act of Love.”
Lakin and his wife Karen were active in the American civil rights movement during the 1960s, and both frequently participated in Freedom Rides to several states in the US’s south, in protest of racial segregation on interstate buses.
Lakin was to be laid to rest on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Eretz HaHaim cemetery in Beit Shemesh.
Haviv Haim, 78, and Alon Govberg, 51, were also killed in the attack, when two terrorists raided Egged bus 78 in Jerusalem, shooting and stabbing the passengers on board. Haim’s wife, Shoshana, 70, was seriously wounded in the attack as well.
Sara Miller and Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.