Terror victim’s son asks to speak at school that hosted killer’s family
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Relatives of terrorist recently addressed students at Elementary School of Jabel Mukaber

Terror victim’s son asks to speak at school that hosted killer’s family

Micha Avni, whose father was slain in October bus attack, seeks to spread Richard Lakin’s message of coexistence to East Jerusalem schoolkids

Richard Lakin (left) reads a book to his granddaughter, as his son Micah Avni looks on. January 2014. (Courtesy)
Richard Lakin (left) reads a book to his granddaughter, as his son Micah Avni looks on. January 2014. (Courtesy)

After learning that an East Jerusalem school recently hosted the family of the Palestinian terrorist who killed his father, the son of an Israeli peace activist has asked to give a talk about Jewish-Arab coexistence to the students there.

Micah Lakin Avni, the son of Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old former American school principal and civil rights activist, contacted the Jabel Mukaber elementary school in an effort to share his father’s legacy, the Ynet news website reported on Monday.

Richard Lakin was severely injured in a shooting and stabbing attack on a bus in Jerusalem on October 13 last year, and died two weeks later of his wounds.

Two other Israelis were killed in the attack — Haviv Haim, 78, and Alon Govberg, 51. The two assailants came from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. Baha Allyan, a 22-year-old graphic designer, was killed by security forces; the second terrorist, Bilal Ranem, was captured alive.

Police guarding a bus after terrorists opened fire and stabbed passengers in Jerusalem on October 13, 2015. (Courtesy Police)
Police guarding a bus after terrorists opened fire and stabbed passengers in Jerusalem on October 13, 2015. (Courtesy Police)

In January, Israeli forces demolished the family homes of both terrorists.

Avni said that after learning that the school had invited Allyan’s family members to address students, he contacted the principal and asked him “to invite me to give a talk to show the other side of the picture, and how we can live together in coexistence by respecting each other, and resolving conflicts by talking rather than fighting.”

A lesson in terror or nonviolence?

In late March, the privately run Elementary School of Jabel Mukaber hosted officials from the Palestinian Education Ministry along with Mohammed Allyan, Baha Allyan’s father, and his mother and brother.

According to a Facebook post since removed from the school’s Facebook page, Allyan’s mother urged the students to use knowledge as a weapon.

Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabal Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)
Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabel Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)

The mother “taught them a great lesson whose gist is that the struggle can also be done through education, the pen, and culture and they can live their childhood with all of its hope, meaning, and dreams,” the post read.

The post referred to Allyan as a martyr, which is standard practice in Palestinian society. There was no mention of what his brother and father said at the event.

Undated pictures showing Baha Allyan, left, and Bilal Riman, the attackers in the Jerusalem bus shooting/stabbing of October 13, 2015, according to Israeli press reports. (Screen capture: Channel 2)
Undated pictures showing Baha Allyan, left, and Bilal Riman, the attackers in the Jerusalem bus shooting/stabbing of October 13, 2015, according to Israeli press reports. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

The elementary school’s administration declined a request to comment from The Times of Israel.

Avni told Ynet he’d heard of several events across the West Bank where Mohammed Allyan was invited to speak, and in which Bahaa Allyan’s and others’ actions were praised. But, he said, “this is the first time I’ve seen such an event in Jerusalem, in areas that are under [Israeli] control.”

Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabal Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)
Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabell Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)

Avni said “incitement was the main factor that leads to the spread of terror.”

Following his father’s death, Avni launched a multi-faceted campaign against incitement on social media, including filing a class-action lawsuit against Facebook in a New York Court.

In Israel, he told a Knesset committee that lawmakers must do more to combat incitement on social media, in order to help prevent more of the terrorist attacks and tragedies of the kind that befell his family.

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