Prime Minister Netanyahu: Fire Education Minister Peretz

Israeli teachers from the LGBTQ community protesting education minister’s statements, photo courtesy YNET

A Wider Bridge, the LGBTQ organization building support for Israel and LGBTQ Israelis, condemns the recent statements of Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz, and calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to immediately dismiss Rafi Peretz as his Education Minister following these remarks. Peretz has shamefully endorsed gay conversion therapy and labeled Jewish diaspora intermarriage as “a second holocaust.”

Conversion therapy is a widely discredited practice by all major health organizations that brings great harm to LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ youth, and increases subjects’ risk of drug use, depression, and suicide, among other damaging effects. That Peretz made this assertion as the head of the Education Ministry – responsible for equipping the next generation of Israelis with the knowledge and tools to build a stronger, more inclusive future for their country – is all the more dangerous.

We are proud to support our partners in Israel who are on the frontlines of confronting conversion therapy and working to advance LGBTQ curriculum and visibility, including KADAG (LGBTQ Religious Communities of Bat Kol, Havruta, and Shoval), Israel Gay Youth (IGY), and Hoshen, the education and information center of Israel’s LGBTQ community and the Aguda. We are also proud to fund KADAG’s Our Faces Video Series, which premiered today, and celebrates inclusion and acceptance of LGBTQ lives in Orthodox spaces.

Peretz’ comments that interfaith families and assimilation in the American Jewish Diaspora are a “second Holocaust” come at a time of growing anti-Semitism on both the left and right margins of US society. His remarks are also deeply disrespectful to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, survivors, and all of us – their descendants, Jewish communities, and our allies today — who keep their stories and memories alive.

Finally, Peretz’ comments show profound ignorance about American Jewish life and defy Israel’s commitment to the global Jewish diaspora. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and non-denominational Jewish life is alive and well. Overwhelmingly, studies show that interfaith families are much more likely to build a Jewish life for themselves and their children when Jewish communities choose to embrace them, rather than spurn them as Peretz has.

We call on Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Rafi Peretz, and appoint a new Education Minister that will make a commitment to supporting Israeli LGBTQ youth and the Israeli-Diaspora relationship.