The ruling body of the World Bnei Akiva youth movement will convene on Wednesday to discuss the future of Rabbi Noam Perel, the organization’s secretary-general, following comments he made on Facebook calling for revenge following the murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah.
In a post written on June 30, Perel wrote: “Three corpses of our youths were found dumped in a field; an entire nation and thousands of years of history demand revenge... The humiliation will be atoned by the blood of the enemy and not by our tears.”
Perel apologized on Thursday for his comments, but issued a full statement on Sunday in which he said he opposed the idea of vengeance.
“I am strongly opposed to any notion of revenge, and to any violent reaction by citizens against any person on earth,” Perel wrote in a letter addressed to Bnei Akiva activists and members.
“Throughout my many years working in education, I have always promoted values of coexistence, tolerance and love of human life. Thousands of my friends and students will attest to my educational philosophy, and it was based on this reputation that I was chosen to lead the World Bnei Akiva movement. These are its values and this has always been its way.”
He described his Facebook post as “misleading and irresponsible” and said it was a reaction to the discovery of “the bodies of pure, young boys, slaughtered by evil people,” noting that he is also personal friends with Bat Galim Shaer, the mother of Gil-Ad.
“I deeply apologize before each and every one of you that in my haste, I placed all of you in the midst of a crisis, affecting your feelings, values, communities and possibly even security. For this, I ask for your forgiveness.”
The extended secretariat of World Bnei Akiva will meet on Wednesday to discuss what disciplinary procedures, if any, to take against Perel, with the possibility that he may be dismissed.
Heavy criticism was leveled at Perel following his outburst, with members of Knesset, Bnei Akiva members and activists and Jewish leaders calling for his removal.
Bnei Akiva UK issued a statement saying, “We wholly condemn the implication that vengeance is the correct response to recent events, and we wish to distance ourselves from statements and members within the global movement which suggest otherwise.”
The UK branch added that its educational programming and activities for its Israel summer program are run by Bnei Akiva UK and that Perel had no input in it.
American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva said it was “deeply saddened to learn of the inflammatory comments made recently on Facebook” by Perel, and underlined that World Bnei Akiva is not part of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva network of schools in Israel, nor part of the American Friends of the network.