Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-15-2019

Education Minister
In a televised interview over the weekend, Education Minister Rafi Peretz said that he supports conversation therapy for homosexuals and that he has referred people to it. His words unleashed a flood of criticism. Hundreds of protestors demonstrated in Tel Aviv yesterday, calling for his dismissal. PM Netanyahu tweeted that Peretz’s statements are unacceptable and “do not represent my government’s position.”

Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who is openly gay, said “sexual orientation does not require therapy nor conversion. Preconceived notions and ignorance require therapy and conversion.”
Peretz responded by trying to clarify his statements. He said that his words were distorted. He said, “I love and respect every person as he or she is. This is the essence of my educational path, this is my approach to life. That is the education I’ve given to thousands of graduates of the preparatory academy. The combination of a rabbi and a politician doesn’t obligate me to hide the truth.”

He said, “I was also asked about my relationship with the LGTBQ community. Anyone who wants to hear exactly what I said is invited to watch the interview and see that it is not like what everyone is shouting. I said that first of all, I respect every human being. I emphasized that I was not giving grades to anyone. When I was specifically asked about conversion treatments, I said from my own experience that when I was approached by Religious Zionist students and asked for guidance, I referred them to professionals at their request and saw that it was possible. I did not say that I was in favor of conversion treatments.”

“I first gave my students a hug and spoke to them warmly. I also offered to study and look into it together, with the goal that the student opposite me will recognize himself better. From that point, the choice is his own and I respect and love each one regardless of their sexual orientation. Sometimes the most convenient thing is to swim with the stream and scream with everyone. You’ll learn that there are other opinions, complex but inclusive. Accepting the other is not the possession of one side. I am not coercive and I do not intend to impose anything on anyone.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said he spoke with Rabbi Peretz and clarified: “The Education Minister’s statements regarding the gay community are not acceptable to me and do not represent the stance of a government led by me. I spoke this evening with Rabbi Rafi Peretz, who explained himself and emphasized that Israel’s educational system will continue to accept every Israeli child as he or she is, without discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation.”

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Gaza Talks
Delegations from Qatar and the United Nations will enter the Gaza Strip in the coming days in order to continue mediating the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas. This comes in the wake of renewed tensions along the Gaza border. Yesterday a mortar shell was fired from Gaza and landed in an open area in Israel.

Also, an Egyptian delegation comprised of senior officials of the General Intelligence Service, entered the Strip on Friday. They held talks with the Hamas officials and other factions in Gaza City before leaving the enclave early Saturday. On Friday thousands of Gazans took part in violent demonstrations along the border fence.

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Afula Park
Last month the city of Afula issued a regulation prohibiting access to a large public park from non residents. Arab rights groups challenged the ruling in the Nazareth district court, claiming that the regulation was directed at excluding Arabs from nearby villages from visiting the park. Lawyers for Afula, a city of 50,000 people, contended the restrictions stemmed solely from a desire to reduce overcrowding during the summer months and keep maintenance costs down.

A court yesterday struck down the town regulation and ordered the park open to everyone. Judge Danny Sarfati stopped short of accusing it of racism and cited a legal opinion by Israel’s attorney general, who said municipal parks were public property open to all.

[Apparently, Israel is not an apartheid state after all]

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Traffic Jam
A 3 year potential traffic jam has begun at the main intersection at the entrance to Jerusalem from Route 1, as a result of a major construction project of a new business district that is expected to bring an additional 60,000 jobs to the capital. The road will be closed to private vehicles but open for public transport.

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Yiddish Music
Did you know that lots of Yiddish songs were written about the experiences of Russian Jewish soldiers during WWII? To watch the a concert of previously unrecorded songs about Jewish resistance and bravery, click here.