The general secretary of Bnei Akiva has escaped disciplinary action after the secretariat of World Bnei Akiva accepted his repeated apologies for comments urging revenge for the murder of three Israeli teenagers.
Rabbi Noam Perel drew condemnation from politicians, fellow rabbis and members of the movement worldwide after venting his anger on Facebook within hours of the discovery of the bodies of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach a week ago. He wrote that “an entire nation and thousands of years of history demands vengeance”, provoking the British branch to distance itself from the international leader.
Despite a second public apology, BA UK led calls for his dismissal and threatened to “reaxamine our relationship with World Bnei Akiva until the siatuation is satisfactorily rectified”.
Following an emergency meeting called to discuss the case, a statement from World Bnei Akiva’s decison-making body said it had been made aware of the “substantial damage” caused to branches around the world by the much-publicised comments and called for “unity” within the movement.
But it appeared to rule out disciplinary action, expressing its “appreciation for Rav Noam’s dedication and hard work in the movement and accepts his honest apology”.
Rabbi Perel – a friend of Gilad Shaar’s mother – said on Sunday his Facebook post had been “misleading and irresponsible.” He wrote to BA members: “I am strongly opposed to any notion of revenge. I have always promoted values of co-existence, tolerance and love of human life.” He added: “I deeply apologise that in my haste, I placed all of you in the midst of a crisis, affecting your feelings, values, communities and possibly even security.”
In its statement, the secretariat said it wanted to emphasise “our love for humanity and our deep aversion to extremist actions that are antithetical to Judaism such as ‘price tagging’ and acts of revenge”.
It also called for the establishment of “a forum of representatives from around the world to advise on appropriate responses and next steps to address present challenges and to spread our message of love of humanity”.
An educational team will also produce materials that “accord with these values and enable encounters between Bnei Akiva participants and wider Israeli society.These materials will be appropriate and relevant for Bnei Akiva summer camps”.