Israeli Facebook in Uproar After Admin of Apartment-hunting Page Boots Leftists Out

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Michal Cohen's post urging leftists to unfollow the apartment-hunting page.
Michal Cohen's post urging leftists to unfollow the apartment-hunting page.Credit: Facebook

An administrator of a popular Tel Aviv apartment-hunting Facebook group caused an online storm after she called on group members who participated in a recent left-wing demonstration to leave the group and blocked a number of users.

"I don’t tend to put up political posts in the group, but if there was anyone here who took part in the demonstration today at Dizengoff [Street] and waved PLO and hate flags, please kick yourselves out of the group," Michal Cohen wrote in the "Word of mouth apartments in Tel Aviv" group, which has some 100,000 members and is one of the city's most popular online apartment-hunting groups.

About 1,000 people participated on Saturday night in a left-wing demonstration in Tel Aviv to protest the addition of Yisrael Beitenu to the coalition and the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister.

Saturday night's demonstration in Tel Aviv against Avigodor Lierman's appointment as defense minister.Credit: Moti Milrod

The post triggered many angry responses, as well as support messages.

In another post, Cohen wrote: "If there's one thing I ask of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, it's to revoke the citizenship of everyone who was at the demonstration in Dizengoff today."

According to Cohen, she blocked many users from the popular group because of their use of offensive language, and not because of the opinions they expressed in response to her post. In the end, Cohen apologized for any offense her remarks may have caused, but noted that she was "happy about those who left the group."

Many people shared the posts that Cohen put up, criticized her remarks and called for a mass exodus from the group.

"I don’t tend to be a fascist, but when I am, I prefer that you don’t live in Tel Aviv," wrote Zizo Abul Hawa in a post that was widely circulated. "I didn’t know that Ms. Michal Cohen, the owner of the 'Word of mouth apartments in Tel Aviv group,' has ownership of real estate in Tel Aviv. Listen, sweetie, this is your group and it really doesn’t need to be democratic, just note it at the top of the group so we know not to be part of it.

"By the way, the demonstration yesterday may or may not be to your liking, but in past demonstrations in which left-wing activists were met with violence by fascists like you, I didn’t see you running to ask those people to kick themselves out of your disgusting group. Luckily for us there are countless 'word of mouth apartments' groups, so I'm happy to kick myself out (despite not being at the demonstration), and I propose that we start emptying it out," he wrote.

 In the meanwhile, an alternative group called "word of mouth apartments not for fascists" has opened, and has so far garnered some 350 members.

This wasn’t the first time that a politics-related storm took place in the group. Following a discussion on a post written by tenants complaining of racial discrimination by a landlord, Cohen warned that the discussions in the group should only deal with apartments. "From now on, if it wasn’t clear until now, all other posts will be removed. There's no politics here – this is a group for apartment hunting," Cohen wrote.

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