'Leftist' Teacher Adam Verete Target of Calls for Violence on Facebook

Commenters discuss ambushing ORT's Adam Verete at school and 'beating the crap out of him.'

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On the Facebook page of student Sapir Sabah, there was a discussion among various posters a few days ago about doing physical harm to teacher Adam Verete, who was at the center of a recent public uproar set off by Sabah’s letter protesting statements he made in class about the IDF’s morality.

Verete filed a complaint with the police on Thursday about the threats against him. Last week the police decided not to act on his first complaint about threats he’d received after Sabah’s letter to Education Minister Shay Piron was published on the Facebook page of former MK Michael Ben-Ari. The police explanation was that “the circumstances of the matter do not justify further investigation.”

Sabah visited the Knesset Wednesday as the guest of MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud-Yisrael Beitenu) and met with his party colleagues in the cabinet Limor Livnat, Ophir Akunis, Tzipi Hotovely and others.

The day before, Sabah shared a status on her Facebook page that was published by a website identified with the far right. The status referred to a plan by some reservists to come to the ORT high school in Kiryat Tivon where Verete teaches for a “presentation of the IDF’s morality.” In the discussion that followed, some commenters discussed an attempt to hurt Verete. “Yeah, he should get the crap beaten out of him,” wrote one, and another said that they should really “stick it to this collaborator with the enemy.” Another contributor urged that “a big organized group should come to the school every day, until he understands that he’s not wanted on the land of Israel.” Yet another: “There’s only one way to deal with leftists – with force, just like with the Arabs.”

One person wrote, “There should be a show of support for Sapir. Everyone should go up to the school to show all those haters of Israel what’s what,” while another said, “We should just stand near there and grab this Adam Verete for a little ‘talk’ – after which he’ll understand in one way or another. … Tell us what days and hours this Adam Verete is at the school and we’ll be able to do it.” “Great, just check when he teaches and what time. Friday morning would be best,” answers another. “On Friday there are no excuses – the leftists are going to get screwed.” Some of the comments were deleted, apparently just Thursday, after word of them got around on social media.

One user tried to offer another perspective. “Do you see how you’re reacting to this? We’re in a democratic country! I don’t support the left but it doesn’t make sense to me that you’re calling him all these names. There are ways to deal with other views – not through incitement but by confronting them with other opinions, backed up with rational explanations.” In response, Sapir Sabah wrote to him: “Sorry to inform you that no one cares what you think.”

MKs, ministers laud student

During Sabah’s visit to the Knesset, Deputy Transportation Minister Hotovely told her she “is glad we have students like her whose values rebel against a teacher who conveys messages that hurt IDF soldiers.” Culture Minister Limor Livnat posted a supportive message for Sabah on her Facebook page, saying “I shook her hand and congratulated her for her courage. She deserves a big like!” Sabah also had her picture taken with Deputy Interior Minister Akunis, who praised her to the media.

Hotovely said on Thursday that she “does not see any connection between legitimate protest activity, which is what Sabah did, and calls for violence. I call upon all youths to maintain the boundaries of legitimate protest and not to slide over into incitement.” On Wednesday it was reported that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also welcomed Sabah, but an official close to the minister said the following day that “Sabah greeted the defense minister when he arrived at the Knesset, and he responded courteously, and that was the end of their encounter.”

On Wednesday Ohayon, a member of the Knesset Education Commmittee, told Sabah, “It’s uplifting and makes me feel good to know that there are students like you who stand up for their beliefs.” On Thursday he wrote, “I was appalled to read the calls on Facebook to come to the school and grab Adam Verete for ‘a little talk.’ My view is that Adam Verete does not belong in the education system, but as the chairman of the lobby to improve the status of teachers, I decry the possibility of the use of violence. Sapir’s action was brave, because it was in a legitimate and democratic framework of a letter to a [education] minister. Violence is not legitimate.”

Still, Ohayon ignored the fact that these threats came in response to a post by Sabah, and that she took part in the discussion. Akunis and Livnat have yet to comment on the matter, and neither ORT nor the Education Ministry responded to an inquiry from Haaretz.

Adam Verete in his home. February 2, 2014.Credit: Gil Eliyahu

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