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Report: Rothman intern banned several times from social media over offensive posts

  • March 19, 2023

An intern working for Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, the key parliamentarian behind the government’s push to curb the power of the justice system, has been banned from social media several times for posting racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ and inciteful content, according to a report Saturday.

Michael Vilensky, a student of public policy and Middle Eastern studies at Bar Ilan University, works in Rothman’s social media team, runs the “Jewishland” Telegram app and TikTok account “Jewish.land5.”

The Channel 13 news report aired several videos by Vilensky. In one posted to TikTok, Vilensky said that late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin “is not a hero, he is a traitor and he doesn’t deserve a memorial day every year.”

The premier was assassinated in 1995 by right-wing extremist Yigal Amir as his government advanced a peace process with the Palestinians.

The report said several of Vilensky’s videos were removed in the past and that his accounts had been suspended numerous times for violating offensive conduct rules. As of Saturday night, both his Telegram and TikTok accounts were active.

In a post responding to a clash between Palestinians and Border Police officers outside the Old City of Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, Vilensky wrote: “There are 3 things that I can watch endlessly: running water, the flames in a fire, and Border Police dealing blows at the Damascus Gate.”

Vilensky wrote on Telegram that “the Tel Aviv Pride Parade and Arab rioters in Acre are different symptoms of the same disease — a lack of identity.”

In another incident, while responding to protest signs declaring that under the current right-wing and religious government, women would soon be forced to wear modest clothing and to sit in the back of the bus, Vilensky wrote: “Never mind that it’s a lie, does anyone see anything wrong with this?”

Rothman chairs the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and along with Justice Minister Yariv Levin, has spearheaded legislation to shackle the judiciary.

In response to the report, Rothman said “Michael Vilensky is a volunteer that helps my spokesperson edit videos and add subtitles. His involvement in my office ends there.”

He went on to claim Channel 13 “has run out of material for its desperate campaign against the reform in the justice system and so has turned to gossip.”

The MK did not condemn Vilensky’s comments or say whether he would continue to work with him.

Vilensky accused Channel 13 of picking and choosing from thousands of videos he had uploaded over the years “in order to paint me as an extreme and hateful person, and through me denigrate MK Rothman and the image of the judicial reform in its entirety.”

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