By COLlive reporter
Oh, the irony…
The woman who went on a verbal rant against a Jewish man putting on Tefillin in Israel’s airport was identified as an expert on multiracialism and diversity.
Arutz 20 TV reported that Professor Pnina Peri was the person seen in the viral video attacking a man with Tefillin and a Chabad Rabbi, insisting they leave the vicinity.
Peri is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Israel Studies at the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland. Previously, she was a senior lecturer at Sapir Academic College and in Levinsky Teachers’ training college.
Her bio says she is “a specialist in multicultural theories, gender, the political economy of education, social and cultural aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and cross-culture communication.”
In fact, one of her publications is titled “Education in Multi-Cultured Society: Pluralism and Congruence Among Cultural Divisions” in which she calls “to educate a person to be a human lover, love his people and his country.”
Speaking to Israeli TV, Professor Peri claims, “they were putting on Tefillin over my head. I most politely asked them to allow me my private space. In response I was attacked by the two in the most terrible way, they screamed at me that I should move and cursed me.”
She also claimed that the two supposedly told her, “‘It’s a pity that Hitler didn’t kill you and your entire family.’ As a daughter of a family which lost many in the Holocaust and grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust most of my life, this statement led me to the outburst,” Peri claims.
“Of course, I apologize for the way I lost my temper but I also expect an apology for the terrible things that were thrown at me and led me to burst out,” she says.
The Lubavitcher seen in the video is Rabbi Meir Hertzel, Director of the Chabad center in the Givat Ze’ev neighborhood in Jerusalem. Speaking to Arutz 20 and the Hebrew COL website, he disputed Peri’s account of the incident.
Hertzel says he was on his way to New York and decided to utilize the 15 minutes he had left until boarding time. “I went over to Jews and quietly offered them to put on Tefillin,” he said.
“The Jew (Gad Kaufman) that agreed was sitting on one bench. The woman was not sitting on his bench or the one facing him, but the one on the other side of the aisle. It’s not that she didn’t want us in her radius. She didn’t want us in the public sphere at all,” Hertzel says.
“The video clearly shows who is the restrained side and who is the attacking side,” he said. “It is a total lie that anyone provoked her, cursed her or her family. This wasn’t done before her frenzied outburst or during her horrifying display, which went on for a few minutes.”
Rabbi Hertzel did say that once Kaufman was done his prayers, he commented to the effect of, “your behavior was so bad that it is hard for him to believe that even the Nazis would do that.”
“As for myself, I didn’t find a reason to respond,” the rabbi said. “The Rebbe guided us to only deal with spreading light and once you spread light, then darkness is dispelled on its own.”
The woman’s tirade did not affect Rabbi Hertzel at all, he said. “After the man finished his prayer, I continued to offer the rest of the people in the area to put on tefillin,” he said.