Technion-Israel Institute of Technology student Murad Abu Elheja responded to the backlash surrounding his Facebook post in which he implied he was happy for the abduction of the three Israeli teens.
Elheja, a medical student, came under intense scrutiny on Tuesday following a post on his Facebook page, which went viral. The post read: “Record… 3 goals for the national team despite Palestinian absence from the World Cup!” “This is a crude distortion and manipulation that has caused a wave of incitement and threats against me,” he said in a statement released on Wednesday through Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
According to Elheja, the post was written nearly three weeks ago, the day after the three teens – Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel – were kidnapped, and not immediately after their bodies were discovered.
Though the reference was clearly to the teens, he said he did not attach a picture along with the post, as was earlier reported.
“It was a kind of black humor, not a good joke if you will, so I deleted the status on my own a few hours later,” he explained, though not in time for someone to take a snapshot of the post and circulate it on the social media site. Following the news that the abducted teens had been murdered, the post went viral within a matter of hours.
“I am hurt by the murders of the three teens just as much as I hurt for the murder of Palestinians, especially for youth and children that were killed during Operation Shuvu Achim [“Brother’s Keeper”], among them the child Muhammad Dudin – aged 13,” the statement read.
Elheja said he was saddened by the fact some of his friends, as well as officials at the Technion, were “dragged into hostile and disproportionate reactions” due to the “twisted and inciting reports” in the media without bothering to check with him and learn the facts first.
“It is clear to me that part of the blunt responses and violence stem from sources of racism and prejudice, and in such an atmosphere the text was judged not according to true content, but according to the nationality of the author,” he wrote.
On Tuesday, Technion president Prof. Peretz Lavie chided the “contemptible and despicable” expression.
“We must condemn such statements, which have no place in the discourse between people,” he said.
Lavie added that the university was “determined to review the case thoroughly and take appropriate and firm action against the person who wrote the status.”
Adalah said it was not representing Elheja at this time and said the organization agreed to circulate his statement to the media because it remains in contact with the student and was “witness to the injustice done to him.”