According to a Thursday morning Kan 11 News brief, “WhatsApp has blocked the account of extreme right-wing activist Baruch Marzel.” That’s the entire report, mostly because WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, is not in the habit of responding to inquiries.
As to classifying the victim of international conglomerate abuse, Baruch Marzel, as “extreme right-wing activist,” the clipped report does not explain whether the fact that one’s political views are “extreme-right” should disqualify him from having access to their WhatsApp account.
Baruch Marzel’s Wiki page in English notes knowingly that “The mainstream Israeli press has described him as an extreme right-wing activist,” so the Kan 11 short report may have been autocorrected to add the “extreme right-wing activist” adjective to his name as a pre-set default.
Should WhatsApp be permitted to block its clients’ accounts without notice, regardless of their political views?
Marzel is an Orthodox Jew, born in Boston in 1959. According to Wiki, he now lives in the Jewish community of Hebron in Tel Rumeida with his wife and nine children. He is a member of Otzma Yehudit, although he was banned by the Supreme Court from running to the Knesset in 2019 – guess why… Yes, because he’s an extreme right-wing activist.
Marzel has been the subject of many criminal prosecutions since he was 17. The one that stands out the most is his criminal act of insulting in court the PLO official Faisal Abdel Qader Al-Husseini, a relative of Haj Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In 1992, Marzel called him a murderer in court and was given a prison sentence that was later commuted to community service.
Some hold that calling the nephew of the Nazi Mufti a murderer was plenty of community service.
In late May, Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir filed a complaint with the police against Facebook CEOs in Israel Adi Soffer Teeni and Yardena Kotler for illegal wiretapping, after their subsidiary, WhatsApp, had permanently suspended the accounts of some 30 Otzma Yehudit “extreme right-wing” activists. These included Ben-Gvir’s wife, a schoolteacher who uses her WhatsApp to send study texts and exams to her students.
Ben-Gvir claimed that in WhatsApp’s response to his inquiry (they actually responded!) the company admitted to wiretapping his wife’s account and the account of the rest of the 30 extremists.
Needless to say, this is not permitted.
“Wiretapping is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison,” Ben-Gvir stated, adding, “Furthermore, the law stipulates that wiretapping also involves viewing without permission of messages and correspondence that are supposed to be private. Under these circumstances, I would like to file a complaint and request an investigation of the two people who are Facebook’s representatives in Israel.”
On Tuesday, Ayala Ben-Gvir sued Facebook for NIS 500,000 ($154,000) for unilaterally locking her out of her account.