Israeli Man Charged With Threatening Attorney General, Blames Autocorrect

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Avichai Mendelblit attends a conference at Tel Aviv University, January 28, 2020.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit attends a conference at Tel Aviv University, January 28, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

An indictment has been filed against a man accused of sending a threatening text message to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, which the suspect insists is the fault of autocorrect, claiming there was not any malicious intent on his part. 

The indictment alleges that Jerusalem resident, Shlomo Havshush,  70, sent a text message to Mendelblit that read: “Please commit suicide [titabed in Hebrew] and prove your innocence in court.”

Havshush insists that he had wanted to write “titkabed” (do the honor), but that his phone’s autocorrect feature had changed the word. The indictment was filed by the National Cyber Crime Unit of Lahav 433.

The full text of the message Havshush sent to Mendelblit in May read, “You told Bibi he should [prove] himself in court," the message read, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname. "Please commit suicide and prove your innocence in court instead of deceiving Israel's citizens who view you as an example of how to behave. You’ve gone too far, Avichai, and don’t forget that you’re a vulnerable human being like all the rest.”

“This is utter nonsense,” Havshush told Haaretz. “I meant to write ‘Do yourself the honor and prove your innocence,’ but the phone changed it automatically. I explained that to the detective and I don’t know why he insisted on filing an indictment … I am not a violent man.

"I’m a person who thinks before he writes, but I didn’t notice that the cell phone went to another word.” He insisted that his use of the word “vulnerable” was a reference to the fact that Mendelblit "can be dismissed – not violence, God forbid. I’m 70 years old, could I threaten Mendelblit?”

In October, an investigation of one of Mendelblit’s neighbors, alleged to have threatened the attorney general eight months ago, was closed. Another investigation of another one of Mendelblit's neighbors, alleged to have threatened one of his bodyguards, was also closed.

Last month, the Bat Yam Magistrate’s Court ordered the police to pay 30,000 shekels ($8,900) to Oren Simon, a demonstrator who was arrested near Mendeblit’s home in 2017. Simon was arrested for disrupting a police officer and harassing the public after he stood with a protest sign along the path Mendelblit walk along on his way to synagogue, and was held overnight at the Hadarim detention center. Simon sued the police for false arrest and the judge ruled that the decision to keep him in custody overnight was unjustified.

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