An Israeli man was yesterday convicted for making death threats to Arab-Israeli Knesset Member (MK) Ahmad Tibi on Facebook, reports the Jerusalem Post.
Roi Meir made the threats in the comments of a Facebook video entitled "Watch: Live bullets and fireworks, the Arabs are celebrating the end of their final exams. Even in an IDF drill there isn't so much shooting as they do today in one neighbourhood".
He referred to Tibi's criticism of police using live ammunition in arresting Arabs and called for the police to "simply wipe them from the face of the earth with their 'innocent' neighbours" and told Tibi that he'd "be more than happy to put a bullet through [his] head."
After Tibi filed a complaint to the police, Meir attempted to backtrack his comments by claiming that he didn't actually threaten Tibi: "I did not threaten, I wrote what I was more than happy to do, I did not write what I was actually going to do. I wouldn't really kill."
Meir tried to downplay the severity of his comments by saying that it was "just Facebook" and that if he had "real intentions" of killing Tibi, he would not have written it on Facebook. He told the interrogator that through these comments, he wanted Tibi to "understand that he is hated".
In his verdict, the judge highlighted that "there is no doubt that Internet in general and Facebook in particular are not legal exteriors where law does not apply" and that while freedom of expression is a fundamental constitutional right, "denying the ability to make threats… [protects] others".
He concluded: "Threating a Knesset member as a public emissary limits the Knesset member's ability to act in the name of the public that sent him to the Knesset as well as on his own behalf, thereby harming democracy itself."
Following the court's ruling, Tibi told MEMO: "I think that the decision by the court is a step in the right direction, but there are still many instances of threats and racism towards Palestinians, especially towards leaders and even Jewish democratic leftist leaders and activists. This behaviour towards Arabs and Arab MKs is spurred on by incitement from the government, mainly from Benjamin Netanyahu."
Tibi holds the number two slot in an alliance of Israel's biggest predominantly Arab parties, Hadash (Al-Jabha) and Ta'al (the Arab Movement for Renewal). Comprised of some of the best-known names in Arab-Israeli politics, including Hadash head Ayman Odeh and long-time MKs Aida Touma-Sliman and Yousef Jabareen, Hadash-Ta'al advocates an Arab-Jewish alliance to fight discrimination, racism and social inequality in Israel.