The British branch of Bnei Akiva is threatening to cut ties with the international religious-Zionist movement if its secretary-general is not immediately dismissed for remarks he made last week urging violent revenge against Palestinians for the murder of three Jewish teenagers.
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Soon after these remarks were published, Bnei Akiva U.K. issued a statement of condemnation but stopped short of demanding the ouster of Rabbi Noam Perel, the secretary-general of World Bnei Akiva. However, following a vote of its governing body several days later, according to a statement published Monday “it was agreed that Bnei Akiva U.K. would call upon the governing body of World Bnei Akiva to immediately remove Rav Noam Perel from office.”
Signed by Ben Dov Salasnik, the national director of Bnei Akiva UK, the statement warns that “in the event that Rav Noam Perel remains in office, we will be forced to re-examine our relationship with World Bnei Akiva until the situation is satisfactorily rectified.” Bnei Akiva UK is one of the largest hubs of the international youth movement.
As Haaretz reported earlier this week, the leaders of World Bnei Akiva are to hold an emergency meeting in Israel within the next two weeks and decide whether or not to replace Perel. The overriding sentiment among the leadership is that Perel should be fired for his remarks, which have angered many in the movement.
Shortly after the bodies of the kidnapped teenage boys were discovered last week, Perel posted on his Facebook page: “An entire nation and thousands of years of history demand revenge.” He urged the “army of avengers” not to stop at “300 Philistine foreskins,” alluding to the biblical tale of David, who killed 200 Philistines and gave their foreskins to King Saul as the bride price for his daughter.
On Sunday, Perel issued a formal apology for his call for revenge, describing it as “misleading and irresponsible.” According to those who support his ouster, this apology cannot undo the damage caused by his remarks to the reputation of Bnei Akiva, the largest Jewish youth movement in the world.
The Scandinavian branch of Bnei Akiva has already issued a statement demanding Perel’s ouster, while the North American branch has sufficed with condemning the secretary-general’s remarks, while pointing out that they reflect only his own personal views.