The religious Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva is demanding a public apology from author and publicist Hanoch Daum over the statements he made against the movement's field trips during the Israeli docu-reality show "Mehubarim" (“Connected”).
In response to Daum's statement on the show, Bnei Akiva Secretary-General Danny Hirschberg wrote a letter to Daum and CC'd Nitzan Chen, chairman of the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting and the cable television network's chairman, saying that if the apology was not to their satisfaction, they would press charges against them.
During the first week of the show's broadcasting, Daum is seen trying to convince his son, Yehuda, not to go on the youth group's field trip, due to a tragedy his wife Efrat experienced in the past, when she lost two of her relatives.
"A field trip led by Bnei Akiva is one where 9th graders are responsible for 7th graders. Kids are fooling around and there's never enough water for everyone to drink. I think that in every Bnei Akiva field trip over 400 kids go missing," Daum said to his son.
"Most families in the religious sect have many children, and sometimes they don’t even notice when one of their children doesn't come back from camp. I know what these field trips are like," he said adding that "the kids are usually taken to places with millions of pedophiles," he added.
In his letter to Daum, Hirschberg wrote: "I have no need to refute all of Daum's lies. However, I would like to point out that during the past ten years, not one child has gone missing during Bnei Akiva's many field trips. There's also no need to clarify that there are no pedophiles at the places the campers are taken to. Bnei Akiva has obtained all of the necessary security and medical requirements needed in order to care for the children at camp."
"In any case, Bnei Akiva reserve the right to press charges against HOT (the cable network), the show's creators and Daum himself," Hirschberg wrote.
In response to Hirschberg's letter Daum said that "Yehuda ended up going on the field trip, meaning that I do in fact think Bnei Akiva is a responsible youth group and it is obvious that I was exaggerating out of my own anxiety."
The production company for the series further commented on the recent events: “Mehubarim” is a docu-reality series in which the participants document their lives with a home camera for a few months without the production's involvement.
"Daum's statements and thoughts on a variety of issues were his own. They derive from his own experiences and emotions and are portrayed on the show without being filtered or edited. This is a major part of the show's concept."
"It is needless to say that there was no intention to harm anyone and we regret if such an event occurred," they said.